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91 Celebrity Solstice Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Well, we had waited so long to go on this cruise it was beyond exciting to get underway. We went a day early and stayed at the Hotel San Georgio in Cittivecchia. Great hotel, great room. We took the advice of so many on this forum and ... Read More
Well, we had waited so long to go on this cruise it was beyond exciting to get underway. We went a day early and stayed at the Hotel San Georgio in Cittivecchia. Great hotel, great room. We took the advice of so many on this forum and used Stephan from RomeCabs to pick us up at the airport. We had a problem with the luggage at the airport and waited almost two hours for our bags, the driver waited for us. A real surprise and load off my mind. (we could not get out of the secure area and then back in so we could not communicate with the driver and I had no phone). Kudos to RomeCabs and I used them twice more during our vacation. We met so many people on the Cruise Critic forums, so much information and so many tips and so many shared experiences. One kind person (Hertha) arranged for dinner at a local restaurant the night before the cruise and it was a pleasure to meet her and her Husband Sal as well some others. It was good fun meeting them all while having great food, wine and service to begin our vacation. Throughout, it is really a pleasure to meet people who are all happy. Is this what a cruise does? Put people in a happy frame of mind. Fantastic, I want more of this! The Ship Wow! I really did not know what to expect and could not have imagined such a large and beautiful ship. We got to the dockside at 1PM and everything went so smooth, we were in our cabin within 20 minutes. Again Wow...the cabin was fantastic. I have stayed in lots and lots of hotels a lot worse than this cabin. Champagne and fruit plate waiting for us was a real treat. Time for a walkabout... We began to tour the ship and all either of us could say was look at this..look at that,... hey over here...no no,... over there. It was really something beyond my imagination. The photos folks have posted just do not portray what this ship is. It has to be seen and experienced. After a few hours of sightseeing on the ship we realized we had an appointment. We went on to a Cruise Critic sail away get together at the sunset bar and it was a great turnout. Met some more of the people we had been talking on the forum with and got to know each other a bit. We were all discussing the plans we had in the upcoming 10 days and they were as varied as the folks on board. I was really pleased that the atmosphere on board was full of fun. Folks were really looking forward to a good time and throughout the cruise, this became evident. The next thing we knew it was time for dinner. The meals, well, the meals in my opinion were outstanding. There was always enough selection to please me for sure and my Wife just wanted to try everything. Clearly, restraint is not something anyone ever suggested on these forums but it should be mentioned that willpower training would be an asset LOL. We ate at Murano and the Tuscan Grill as well and, they are as good as any high end restaurant anywhere. Food was just excellent anywhere we ate. The service, everywhere on the ship, was impeccable. There is never a lack of trying to please the passenger. As I said, it was our first cruise so we did not expect this high level of service. Everyone greeted us with a smile and at least a hello. There are so many places on the ship that you can go to relax, to have a drink, to watch people go by, to be by yourself, to watch the scenery, to eat and to have a nap that it seems that sometimes there are only a few passengers on board. In fact, the cruise was sold out. It is a very well planned vessel. Our cabin was just as good as it can get. There was plenty of room for both of us as well as our tremendously over stuffed and over packed luggage. You see, I didn't listen to all the proper advice that was given by those very smart cruisers on Cruise Critic LOL. It was a wise choice to get a veranda and yes, it was real good having coffee and a croissant on out on the balcony in the mornings. Not to say that sitting out there in the evenings with a glass of wine was bad.... The Ports The ports, well, I can only say that the places we stopped were exactly what we wanted to see. The Mediterranean is so historic, so rich in culture, antiquities, variety, full of warmth and friendliness. Exactly the things to do that we imagined and more. Exactly the foods we wanted to taste and more and exactly the people we wanted to experience and yes, more. So much has already been said about all the ports so our opinions would be redundant, repetitive and probably would not do them justice.... The End,.... Unfortunately In essence, this has been the ultimate escorted "bus" tour. We unpacked once in luxurious surroundings and everyday woke up in a place we had never been or seen. For sure, it was our excellent adventure. Has this cruise line got us hooked on cruising? Well, like some folks we met said to us, "we have one on the go, one booked and, one in the planning stages at all times". My Wife and I are in the final stages of planning a second cruise next year with an eye on one shortly thereafter with our Family. I guess Celebrity has me hooked with this experience. (must be great bait they are using LOL). I am trying to think of a word I have not yet used to describe our vacation but cannot. It was just what we needed! Pete Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
I ready all the reviews prior to my trip and want to be able to provide good feedback. Me and my wife are in our mid to late forties. We have previously sailed with Royal Caribbean and Princess. We flew in from Ft Lauderdale to Atlanta to ... Read More
I ready all the reviews prior to my trip and want to be able to provide good feedback. Me and my wife are in our mid to late forties. We have previously sailed with Royal Caribbean and Princess. We flew in from Ft Lauderdale to Atlanta to Rome on the day of the cruise. I wouldn't do that again. We actually had a delay in Ft Lauderdale and arrived in Atlanta just in time for boarding. If I had to do over I actually would have a arrived a few days early to see Rome and adjust to the time. We took the ship excursion (the rest were private excursions) to see Rome. It was ok. Most of time you are in the bus and you are so wiped out from the trip you just want to get on the ship. Embarkation was easy. Please see the Port sections about what to see and visit. Dinner- I read so may reviews that complained about the dinner at night, but we found it to be very good. We did have an issue with service and didn't like the fact we were sitting on a rectangular table for 8 instead of a circular table. We complained and the next night we were moved to a different table and the service was actually so much better. We had the late seating 8:45, which we like to give us time to rest after the excursion's and hang out by the pool for a few hours prior to dinner. Entertainment- I read reviews that people didn't go to the shows. Go to the shows. They were all very good. This is your vacation. Stay up and live a little. Like they say on the ship-you can sleep at home. Cabin- We had an Inside cabin. Most people had balconies. We rather have used the money on excursions than the balcony. The reason is that we hardly spend any time in our room anyway. The room was plenty big and they had the biggest shower that I have seen. Our room attendant (Joyce) was very good. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We were so incredibly impressed with everything about our recent Solstice experience. Although there were close to 3,000 people aboard, we never felt like things were crowded and we found the staff to be incredibly friendly, helpful and ... Read More
We were so incredibly impressed with everything about our recent Solstice experience. Although there were close to 3,000 people aboard, we never felt like things were crowded and we found the staff to be incredibly friendly, helpful and professional. The ship was absolutely spotless, with the crew constantly cleaning ,polishing and administering hand sanitizer to guests at key spots aboard the ship. The ship was gorgeous and decorated in a very clsssy style. It was not over the top glitz, which is not my taste. Everything was done in a very elegant, warm, extremely beautiful way.The cabins were lovely and very comfortable, with a surprisingly functional and roomy bathroom. We had opted for Aquas Class, and it was well worth the extra money! We loved eating in Blu. The food,ambiance, service and friendliness of the staff was incredible. Kudos to the entire staff of Blu. I did see people lined up in the stairway to go to eat in the very large main dining room, and we were very happy that we had chosen AQ so that we could eat each evening in the intimate venue of Blu. The ports were all great and I was very impressed with how organized the ship was dispatching people to the proper excursion buses. We took all excursions through the ship and were delighted with all of them. My only complaint was in Istanbul, where much time (almost an hour) was wasted while a carpet demonstration turned into a long sales pitch. I know there was a separate shopping excursion and would recommend the visit to the rug showrooms should be saved for that excursion. The rest of our day was rushed because of this. My only other complaint is that I know in past cruises Rhodes was included as a port, and I would have liked to go there instead of a third day at sea. Overall, I would rate my experience as excellent and would cruise with Celebrity X class ships again. I hope they come up with some new itineraries in the future, with more stops to the Cote d'Azur and southern France in general or maybe even some western French ports near Britanny or Bordeaux? It seems all of the cruise lines do almost the same itineraries, and we have been to most of the existing ports on numerous occasions. I would heartily recommend Celebrity and look forward to cruising with them again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This was truly the trip of a lifetime. I really appreciated everyones input and suggestions regarding tours, etc. We spent 3 weeks away. The first 10 days going to Venice, Florence and finally Rome. We stayed in an apartment on ... Read More
This was truly the trip of a lifetime. I really appreciated everyones input and suggestions regarding tours, etc. We spent 3 weeks away. The first 10 days going to Venice, Florence and finally Rome. We stayed in an apartment on Campo di Fiore in Rome as we were there for four days. I arranged 3 vans from Stefano at Rome cabs to transport the 10 of us and another 8 people that we met on cruise critic. Can't say enough about Rome cabs as they were prompt, professional and answered many emails promptly. It cost 25 euros a piece to transport to Civitavecchia. We left around 11:15 and arrive 12:30ish. We were able to go aboard the ship right away. The line was short and embarkation went smoothly. What a beautiful ship!!!!!! They wheeled my mom up to the Oceanview Cafe for a wonderful lunch. We were then able to explore the boat. Once we arrived back into our balcony room, the luggage was already there. The room was narrow, but spacious. The balcony had two chairs and a table and lots of leg room. We spent alot of time there. The bathroom was the best I've seen on a ship. I also thought the staff, Paul our waiter, Ebra, his assistant and Miquel our steward were excellent always looking for ways to help us. My husband got sick one day and even the Matre D called to make sure he had everything. Wow. The Ports In Sicily, 8 of us had a private tour with a Sicilian nicknamed Mimo from Sicily Life. He was wonderful. He drove us out to Mt. Etna were we explored for awhile and then to Taorimina where we had lunch and explored for about an hour or so. He also drove us around Messina to show us the highlights. We left around 10 and got back around 5. Cost was 420 for the 8 of us. In Athens, there were 16 of us (many from cruise critic). We signed up with Paul Kalomiris (Athens taxi). The cost was 300 euros for a van for 16 for a half day tour (5 hrs.) The only disappointment was that Paul promised himself or his son, but "Bill" showed up which was neither. He never emailed me the change. We based our selecting this company based on the reviews about Paul. Bill was excellent at getting us to all the main attractions, ahead of the crowds and a very nice guy, but did give us some erroneous information. All in all though, it was a great tour. We were at the acropolis when there were maybe 20 people only. He took us to the Olympic stadium, changing of the guards, tomb of the unknown soldier was pointed out, St. George's where we had a wonderful view and left us with about an hour at the plaka. Tour started at 7:30 and we were back around 12:30. Mykonos we wondered on our own. Did a little shopping, wandered to the windmills, Little Venice and got lost. Was a wonderful day. Loved sitting by the sea. At Kudasei, we went to Ephesus in a van with 15 through Kagan Kosagan. By the way these vans are very comfortable and air-conditioned. Our tour guide was Yelda. She was amazing. The best tour guide we had. We explained the history, culture, etc. of Turkey. She really was extremely knowledgeable. We went to House of Mary, Ephesus, saw the Terrace Houses, St. John Basilica, a mosque, Temple of Artemis and had lunch in a little restaurant that the locals go to. This tour was 450 euros for 16 max., admission fee another approx. 25 euros each and lunch was 12 euros for 2 including beer. We were gone all day 8 am to 4:30 pm. We had asked for no factory tours or shopping. Yelda also paid for the admission fees in turkish lire and then we were able to give her euros. Rhodes you dock right at the city, so we just walked off the ship,wandered around for a few hours and then went back. Its a wonderful walled city. Santorini was our only tendered port. We went down early and got on the first tender. No line at all at the cable cars, but we were the only ship there early. We had some trouble finding the public bus stop, but eventually did. Took the bus to Oia where we wandered the streets and had lunch there. Then back to Fira for some shopping. By that time the streets were getting crowded as there was at least one more ship in port. There was a short line to get back to the ship. Lots of walking that day. Naples we signed up for the Celebrity Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii tour. We left early around 7:30 am and got back at5:15 pm. We loved the tour, but wish they had done Pompeii first. It was extremely crowded by the time we got there around 2:30 in the afternoon. I think there were 5 ships in port that day. Capri we spent about an hour and a half. Sorrento we had a wonderful lunch and about an hour to wander. Pompeii we were there until about 4:30 pm. We enjoyed the shows alot. 60s night was alot of fun. You have to check out the entertainment at the martini bar. I had my best deep tissue massage at the spa by a gentlemen, but I'm sorry I forgot his name. The fitness center was wonderful, but had to pay extra for alot of classes. The pool area in the solarium would get quite warm, but did feel good on those cloudy, windy days. One complaint. Our friend one the jokster contest and all they gave him was a certificate. Come on Celebrity. How about a token prize like a bottle of wine, spa certificate, et. Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to but in the most useful info. Hope this helps Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
It's been almost 2 months since our return from the fabulous Celebrity Solstice tour around the eastern Med, but the memories are still strong and will be for some time to come. This being our 1st ever cruise we were somewhat ... Read More
It's been almost 2 months since our return from the fabulous Celebrity Solstice tour around the eastern Med, but the memories are still strong and will be for some time to come. This being our 1st ever cruise we were somewhat apprehensive - will cruising be for us? will we be bored ? will we suffer 'mal de mare ? Flying out to Rome the same day as departure, would we get to the ship on time ?? All worries that went through my head for months before the big day. So yes, of course we arrived at Civitaveccia in good time thanks to the pre-booked ships transfers, check-in was fast and efficient, we were on board and found our cabin with 30 minutes of arrival at the port. Our cabin which was spotless, comfortable and spacious with a good view out to sea (Deck 7), provided you didnt look down only to see the tops of the orange life boats. Next thing on the agenda was to find something to eat and drink - so we headed up to the Oceanview Grille and was greeted with a smiling face offering cocktails - lovely I thought, only to discover we were then signing the receipt for $9 each, but hey it tasted good and you did get to keep the glasses ! Found a table and went in search of lunch. There were numourous food stations with just about EVERYTHING you could wish for, all nicely presented, hot and tasty. Once fed and watered we returned to our cabin and our luggage was waiting for us outside, also, coincidently was our steward waiting to introduce himself. We instantly made friends with him and he kept us clean and tidy for the rest of the 12 days, bringing us everything we asked for including regular ice bucket replenishment and fresh lemons for my gin ! Before we knew it it was time to head up to the Sunset bar for sailaway.... and from then on we felt completely at home throughout the ship. We had 2nd sitting for dinner in the main restaurant and our waiters Lazaro and Carlos, tended to our every need, with recommendations thrown in for good measure. They instantly became best pals with our 12 year old son. Again food here was wonderful and could not be faulted at any time. We ate here most nights, but did experience Tuscan Grille on one occasion. In truth I think I preferred the Grand Epernay, the food at TG was good, but it was the only place on the ship where any ship movement could be felt - which un-nerved our son a little. 1st day at sea and we chilled out around the pool. Yes it was busy and the pools small for the number of passengers, but we wandered between the loungers and the pool bar, and explored the ship some more and the time flew by. Ports of Call - well the review is about the ship, so surfice to say that all the ports of call were great. We took no organised ships tours and did all DIY thanks to the heaps of research I had done before departure. Everything went according to plan. We saw everything we intended on seeing at a fraction of the cost by means of public transport. One day in Kusadasi we moored alongside Equinox - there was a great party atmosphere going on with the crew, who were meeting up with colleagues not seen for some while, then when we left, the ships were saluting each other with much siren blowing and waving - it was quite an experience. Ships Entertainment - we saw two shows, both excellent, didnt do the Quasar thing, not quite my 12 year olds scene ! My partner frequented the Casino for a brief time most nights - but we wont be booking our next cruise on his winnings !! The midnight buffet held one night in the Sky Lounge was a bit of a crush - we only went to see what was on offer, not that we could eat very much more, but it seemed the whole ship was present. I enjoyed a massage and facial in the spa, which was one of the special offers advertised in the 'dailies'. It was good, but of course was subject to some degree of hard sell for the products. I told the lovely Philippino lady that my partner had paid for my treatment so I had better not spend any more of his money - to which she then left me alone ! Before we knew it our time had come to an end. We had an early flight (10.50am) and so therefore was aware we would be one of the first off - however I think our 6.15 disembarkation was a little too early since we found ourselves at the airport a good hour before the check-in opened. So this was our 1st experience of cruising. A fantastic ship, with fantastic crew and fantastic ports... will we go again ?? ... you betcha !! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Spent the night before departure at Sofitel at LHR T5. Excellent choice when you have a 7am flight as it is just a short walk across the bridge to the terminal. Tip: book at least 2 weeks before for the best deal - non refundable! ... Read More
Spent the night before departure at Sofitel at LHR T5. Excellent choice when you have a 7am flight as it is just a short walk across the bridge to the terminal. Tip: book at least 2 weeks before for the best deal - non refundable! Celebrity rep was at T5 to make sure we checked in OK. Also on arrival in Rome. Efficiently pointed out where to leave our luggage which was taken by separate van to the ship, while we travelled by coach. Quick check in at the terminal where we got our cards for use during the holiday. Staterooms ready at 1.30pm. Excellent size with modern furnishings,plenty of storage, cream leather settee, marble counter tops, lovely voile drapes over the blackout curtain. Good sized balcony with table and 2 recliner chairs. Bathroom was a very welcome surprise as the shower was big and there were plenty of cupboards. Nice toiletries but no shower gel!The shopping bag was great to use on board and when off the ship As for the ship itself it really is stunning, the atrium goes from bottom to top of ship with 2 banks of 4 glass elevators which are smooth and totally silent.The Lawn Club does have real grass which is mowed and raked and watered every day. Well used for playing bowls and quoits or just laying on!Nice shady places to sit up there in comfy basket chairs and settees.There are also many areas on the top deck, outside cafes and around the pool that offer shade which is essential when you are cruising at the height of summer - not everyone wants to bake to a crisp! The pools are nice, not much different from any other cruise ship pools but all the children loved playing in the dancing fountains.Sunbeds are packed in on the top decks around and near the pools but apart from 'sea days' when it was difficult to get a place unless you were early,there was room for everyone. The Aqua spa pool is over 16 only so a quieter and more relaxing option and with all sorts of loungers and hammocks.Dining was a pleasure in the Grand Epernay restaurant, again the decor is stunning, all glass and chrome with coloured mood lighting. Food and service excellent with plenty of choice.Sadly on 'formal' nights not all male guests wore appropriate clothing;ie:very casual shirts with no ties or jackets and we also spotted a couple of men in shorts and despite what it says in the literature, they were allowed in which was a pity as standards begin to slip when this happens. We used the self service buffet for breakfast and lunch, again excellent with plenty of choice.The ship was full with 450 under 16s on board so we were aware of children being around and they all seemed to keep late hours however most were well behaved and kept occupied in the kids clubs. The shows were spectacular as Solstice has a link with 'Cirque de Soleil' . We have never seen such wonderful productions on any ship. Other nights we were treated to a good selection of acts all of which were excellent and we enjoyed them all. All around the ship, various musical entertainers perform every night in various locations so there is plenty going on as well as the disco and various themed bars which were all popular. The excursions were well organised, the gathering point was the theatre and the transfer to the busses was efficiently done. Iced towels and water were offered on our return which was most welcome after hours sightseeing in the heat. We had smooth seas all the time but I can't imagiine there ever being much roll, the ship was rock steady all the time and no vibration from the engines - marvellous. Disembarcation again was efficient.We got numbered stickers for our bags which corresponded to the time we had to leave the ship. Bags were collected at 11pm the night before and were in zoned areas for us to identify and take to the transfer coaches the following morning. Celebrity reps had trollys waiting for our use at the airport and pointed us in the right direction for checkin. So despite travelling in August when it is school holiday time, hot and crowded we had a wonderful time aboard Celebrity Solstice and would recommend this ship to anyone whatever age - we are retired! We are trying Celebrity Century for a 7 day Western Med cruise in October, I doubt it will come anywhere near the Solstice for 'Wow' factor but hopefully the Celebrity magic will still be evident and we will have a good time - will let you know!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
THE TRAVELLING TO THE BOAT.. It started with an apporxamite 4 hour flight to Italy-Rome. Now don't be fooled by your itinery. If your taking a fly cruise, whatever your first destination is, you probably wont get to see any of it. We ... Read More
THE TRAVELLING TO THE BOAT.. It started with an apporxamite 4 hour flight to Italy-Rome. Now don't be fooled by your itinery. If your taking a fly cruise, whatever your first destination is, you probably wont get to see any of it. We didn't get to see any of rome. Besides the motorway of the coach transfer!.. (TIP* perhaps book flights seperately, go a day before, explore rome, then get a taxi transfer to port- perhaps?) THE BOAT ITSELF.. So you arrive at the port. First reaction "WOW". It's beautiful! It's alot of hassle with paperwork, and they take your photo..and they take your photo again, whilst boarding the ship for security purposes. You get a complimentary glass of champagne as your board, and then the next time you see your luggage is in your room. Finding your room is really exciting. Walking in, seeing everything for the first time. It's beautiful. ofcourse the first day there are drills, and talks going through life boat procedures and what not. I found the ship quite 'snooty' at times. Alot of people seemed to enjoy asking the question 'What deck are you on?'- ofcourse in realisation that, evidently, the higher deck you were on, the more you'd payed for your room.. Besides this, there were some lovely people on board! The decor is flawless. Waiters all friendly. Food delicious. Not crowded. There are two pools. If your teenager is around the age of 15, he/she is too old to swim with the young kiddies in the main pool, and too young to swim in the adult pool. So this ship may not be ideal for teens, but my two daughters (13 and 15) enjoyed it and found it amazing despite this. We avoided the formal nights- a big regret! It seemed very 'ball gown' orientated, and we found that this wasn't really, our thing. What we regret, is not eating more in the grand epernay. Outstanding food. We only ate there towards the end, as we got highly bored of the ocean view cafe- you have the same personal waiter to your table everytime. EXCURSIONS: i didn't rate the excursions very highly, they seemed very educational orientated, as opposed to fun. Mt Etna got a tad' boring, as was pompeii, as soon as we walked into the ruins, we came straight back out, and got a pizza. Istanbul in the grand bazaar- what an experience. My daughter got hassled alot though, old men wanting to buy her for 'x' amount of camels.. we even got locked in the shop,on the plus side, since my daughter had grey eyes, they said she was allowed anything in the shop for free. - unfortunatly we did not take advantage of that offer... I recommend just exploring the towns yourself! Shuttle buses are very organised and easy to use, tender boats are simple, and not along wait. TIPS: *i would take your name off the tip giving list. a family of 4 could be paying up to £1000 in tips, and not even come into contact with half the staff there!- just tip individual people if you want to! *Don't go on this ship if your looking for entertainment- it's not that good. *DO go on this ship, if you want a relaxing, luxurious, high-class holiday. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We had a balcony stateroom which was designed and fitted out to perfection. The food was first class and the service from staff was the best we've every had. However, our only 2 complaints about the cruise was lack of entertainment ... Read More
We had a balcony stateroom which was designed and fitted out to perfection. The food was first class and the service from staff was the best we've every had. However, our only 2 complaints about the cruise was lack of entertainment at night for adults. We were second seating for dinner 8.45, however, didn't get out of dining area until 11.00 every night, which had a knock on effect for the entertainment side as music and entertainment stopped between 12.00-1.00. There was however, Quazor night club open until 3.00ish, but if you were over 30 years of age, you were too OLD! Certainly something Solstice should look at. Majority of nights we were in the Sky lounge which was live entertainment and very good at that but as we say, music stopped between 12.00-1.00. From other cruise ships we have been on, the entertainment stopped when majority of people retired to bed. You either had to leave dinner early to see the Theater shows or just completely miss out on it. Second criticism would be the poolside. There were 3 pools, 2 outside and 1 indoor, however, the outdoor pools were full of children and no room for adults. One pool was supposed to be the 'family pool' and the second pool was the adult one, however, no proper signage at poolside to state this. It was however the parents responsibility for same, however, I'm sure if there were proper signages and rules for both adults and children to enjoy, it would make it a better atmosphere all round. It certainly spoilt my time at the poolside and forced my husband and I to go elsewhere which should not be the case. We spent a lot of money on this cruise and to be honest, it shouldn't have happened. Having spoken with the security staff on a number of occasions about the situation, something has to be done regarding this. We certainly wouldn't cruise with Solstice again until the poolside situation be resolved. We found staff to be exceptionally helpful, however, have to say there was a change in attitude on our last night due to preparations for the next cruise. Atlantis (gay cruise) and allegedly the best and busy cruise for this liner. There was a decline in food choice in the Oceanview Cafe and an overall change in staff (too busy getting ready for next cruise)! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise.We stayed overnight in Rome and had a shuttle pick up arranged by a fellow C.C. Embarkation was easy,had lunch and went to cabin.The balcony had a window washing gantry obscuring the left ... Read More
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise.We stayed overnight in Rome and had a shuttle pick up arranged by a fellow C.C. Embarkation was easy,had lunch and went to cabin.The balcony had a window washing gantry obscuring the left hand corner.I had seen from the Cabin Sticky on the forums that the corresponding portside cabin had that problem so I asked my TA to contact Celebrity,I was told no problem so was disapponted when we boarded, we complained and guest relations gave us a comp to Murano,but I will be contacting Celebrity myself. Moaning over,we had a really good time,we ate in the MDR and found the food good with a lot of choice and fortunately hot maybe we were lucky.Another moan coming on! the tables for 2 are too close to each other,they are in effect tables for 4 and that is not what you want if you request a table for 2.Our assigned table 100 was in a poor position [in our opinion, the other couple sharing the 2/4 top table liked it they thought it quiet,We did not like being in the corner of the MDR facing a laundry cupboard and next to a workstation] Luckily our table was changed to 210 a much nicer position nearer the centre of the dining room. I think I've stopped moaning again,we ate in the Murano really good and The Tuscan Grill O.K. Cafe on 5 very good. Oceanview was good too we had no problems and enjoyed the choice. We went to some shows in the Solstice Theatre and enjoyed the singers, musicians and the Ghostlight show.The Solstice show which most people raved over sent us to sleep. We had cocktails in the Martini bar but our favourite venue was Michaels Club nice and quiet with a pianist/singer. We went to a few quizzes and my husband played table tennis.We watched the Hot Glass Show and played Bocce on the Lawn. The pool area was crowded and cramped we preferred the Solarium area. Ports Santorini:We got up early and queued for tender tickets and was on the first tender.We did not have to wait long for a cable car and found the bus station and got the bus to Oia. Mykonos:Took the ship shuttle and walked around the shops. Istanbul:Took the tram and saw the sights independently, very easy. Kusadasi:Went on a private tour booked by a fellow cc and went to Ephesus including the Terrace Houses and Mary's House.Really good. Rhodes:Walked around the Old Town, we have been to Rhodes a few times before. Athens:Took a ship tour to Corinth as we have been to Athens before the canal was interesting but tour overpriced and we did not like the enforced shopping stops. Messina:Another tour with our cc'ers we did the Godfather tour,good fun Naples:Took the bus to the station train to Pompeii then Sorrento back by Hydrofoil to port. We were really sad to leave the ship had an early disembarktion as our shuttle took us back to the airport at 6.30 am.We carried our ow luggage off,simple. We left our luggage at the airport and took the train to Rome for another look around.caught our plane in the evening. We had a great holiday the highs outweighed the lows and we would like to thank everyone at Cruise Critics for the invaluable help given to us when planning the trip and especially to those that arranged shuttles and trips. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
The Solstice is a sophisticated cruising experience. However, it was clearly good for families, too as there were plenty of kids and teenagers who seemed to be having a good time. We had a lovely room with a deck which we used to sit out ... Read More
The Solstice is a sophisticated cruising experience. However, it was clearly good for families, too as there were plenty of kids and teenagers who seemed to be having a good time. We had a lovely room with a deck which we used to sit out and read or to look at the islands as we passed by. There was PLENTY of space. The closet was spacious with enough hangers, there was a dresser, and lots of room over the bed which we didn't even use. Granted, we have traveled a great deal and pack light (on backpack a piece), but even if we had brought one outfit a day, there was plenty of room. The bathroom was clean and the shower was fantastic. There are so many things to do on the ship from art (glass blowing) to entertainment (karaoke, musicals, etc.) to working out (gym and track) to relaxing. We especially loved the "pods" which were cushioned sofas with a retractable cover. We stayed in the solarium which was for 18 and over only. On the sea days, there was a bit of a struggle to find a chair, but I mostly played basketball while my husband went in the hot tub. The staff was incredibally professional and friendly and went out of their way to make us comfortable. The food was delicious.. way too much of it.. and ice cream all day and night! The only negative for us was the constant attempts to get us to go on one of their excursions, so we could frequent their choice places to shop. We went on our own and saved money and had the time to go wherever we wanted to at our own pace. It's very hot during the summer, so we left out early and came back in the early afternoon for a nap. We are not wealthy and felt at times that many people on board were about shopping more than sightseeing, but we found others like ourselves. Celebrity is very concerned about the health of the passengers, so they required that hand sanitizer be used when boarding the ship and entering the dining facilities. All in all, it was an unforgettable experience. It was such beautiful scenery, elegance, and great history. Oh and the food!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This was our third cruise with Celebrity (my theory is that if you are onto a good thing, stick to it), and in nearly all ways, our faith in the cruise line was rewarded. I have posted my trip journal and photos at: ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Celebrity (my theory is that if you are onto a good thing, stick to it), and in nearly all ways, our faith in the cruise line was rewarded. I have posted my trip journal and photos at: http://ourcruises1.shutterfly.com. The ship was wonderful - as most other posters have said at Cruise Critic -so I won't spend any time describing it, except to say she is big, but uncrowded. There were some times when we felt like we were on a deserted ship which, given there were 2800 people + crew on board, was a pretty significant achievement. FOOD I didn't want to, but I have to agree that the food in the Main Dining Room isn't quite up to the same standard on our last two cruises - not so much the quality, but the range of dishes. I read somewhere that it was as though they were trying to do complicated menus for the masses, and it doesn't work. There was nothing wrong with the food itself, but I had the grilled chicken breast on one night because I could find nothing I liked. On one night, fish dishes dominated. Service here was good, but quick - we never felt rushed, but we didn't have much time to chat - to be expected I guess given the late dinner sitting is always looming. What we were surprised about was how people turned up for dinner all through the dinner period rather than being there on time at 6.15pm. No one ever said anything, but it must have made the staff's life very difficult, particularly since some folks turned up at 7pm or after! Ther was one large family group that always turned up at 7pm, sometimes all of them, sometimes only one or two. The other thing I noticed this time was that the first sitting was never full, and on the last night we were in the MDR, one waiter had no customers at all. I'd not seen this before, but with so many places to eat, and so many children on board, it was undoubtedly easier not to eat in the MDR for some. The first formal night, we didn't see many people dressed up, but the second formal night was much more formal. The OceanView Cafe was fine - I liked the stations and didn't miss the trays at all. There was a good range of food all the time and its quality was good. Pizzas were a favourite, and sushi one day was a hit. The afternoon tea each day at 4pm was popular, and I was a regular - both small sandwiches and rolls and pastries were available. We never had trouble finding a table, although others reported that at peak hours (around 9am), it did get busy. We ate at Bistro on Five one lunchtime and it is worth the $5 cover charge. We tried out all three speciality restaurants and we enjoyed them all. Food and service was excellent in all of them, but our favourite was Silk Harvest. I had read mixed reviews about this restaurant, but we loved it. We celebrated our anniversary in Murano and the food was wonderful, but as others have said, rich. We walked away very, very sated. They were alerted to our anniversary by the waitress in the Ensemble Bar who was fantastic (Ivona) and after eating far too much, we were given a small chocolate cake with two candles on top - which we had to blow out - accompanied by a delightful little speech by the Maitre D'. The service here was fantastic. We at at the Spa Cafe for breakfast one morning, but I have to say there wasn't much there that you couldn't get at the OceanView Cafe so we didn't go back. SERVICE As I mentioned above, the service was fantastic - I heard no complaints this time, as we did on the New Zealand cruise on Millennium last year. Everyone was great, but our favourite was Ivona in the Ensemble Lounge. We headed in there after dinner on the first night to wait for the show, and returned every night for the cruise. She looked after us, checking our bookings in the speciality restaurant and treating us very well. If you see her, say hello to her from Alan and Maree from Australia. THE POOL Neither of us are pool people, but we did spent the morning of the last sea day on the pool deck reading. We had a prime position to watch the battle of the deck chairs - and I now wonder why Celebrity bothers with the 'don't save chairs' policy. Given it is not enforced, they should have a first come, first served policy. People saved chairs, walked away for hours and then returned to claim their spots. In some cases, their chairs had been moved, but there were still 'saved'. There were a couple of vocal complaints, and the pool staff did a great job readjusting and putting chairs in preferred positions. I have to say I just don't get the 'let me bake in the 30 degree heat for four hours' but each to their own. PORTS After Santorini, I decided that this cruise is for 'seeing' not 'doing. On the NZ cruise last year, there were lots of things to do on excursions (jet boat riding, white water rafting, bushwalking), but on this cruise, not so much. This was okay, as we both wanted to see the ruins and historical sites, but walking, being on buses and trains and more walking in the heat was not good fun. We decided never to do a summer cruise again. I've reported on the tours we did in the trip journal so I won't comment again, except to say that I liked Turkey more than I thought I would and was underwhelmed by the level of tourism (touts, souvenir stores) on the Greek islands, although I'm not sure why I expected anything else. The islands are beautiful in terms of scenery and views and cruising is a great way to see them. I'd like to return to Athens again which I thought was an interesting city, but one which needs a lot more time to explore. Ephesus and Delos (Mykonos) were highlights for us. It is a port intensive itinerary, so if we do something like this again, I think we will do half day tours to not tire ourselves out! We had early starts most days, and with the heat, it was tiring - afternoon naps are necessary.:-) The ice water/juice and ice towels provided when re-boarding after excursions were just fantastic, and I hope Celebrity never stops this service. DEMOGRAPHIC ON BOARD We had by far the most children across the broadest age range on this cruise, but universally well behaved from our perspective. It was northern hemisphere summer and school holidays so this was to be expected, but they did not detract from the cruise experience at all. On a couple of times, we encountered children with the onboard children's program staff, and everyone -staff included - looked like they were having a great time. There seemed to be a wide range of age groups as well, and from many countries. SHOWS AND MUSIC We only saw a couple of shows, and since Alan likes singing and I like production, we variously enjoyed or were bored by the shows we did watch. I liked Solstice, the circus show, the most. Live music around the ship was great, particularly the String Quartet. The production quality of the shows is good, not great, but as I've said in other reviews, I don't go on cruises for entertainment, so I don't see this as a make or break element of my cruise experience. CABINS We didn't fill up all the storage space in the cabin or bathroom (there is plenty), and didn't find the safe or the closet too hard to get to. The fittings were five star quality and our cabin stewards were, as always, fantastic. There is also a wide range of movies to watch on the TV in the cabin - both free and pay per view, so we did this on most nights. The quality varied considerably, but it's a great option. The interactive TV service is very good. OVERALL A fantastic cruise, no complaints, still impressed with Celebrity and have booked on a Baltic cruise next year. Five stars all around for me. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I wanted to write a review so that I may help others planning for their cruise the same way I used CC to help me. First of all I want to say that celebrity's service was outstanding the boat obviously being brand new was beautiful and ... Read More
I wanted to write a review so that I may help others planning for their cruise the same way I used CC to help me. First of all I want to say that celebrity's service was outstanding the boat obviously being brand new was beautiful and the food was fabulous. I know some people have said the food was mediocre but considering they make over 13,000 meals per day I think they do a fabulous job. I never got a cold meal and yes there were a couple items I picked that I thought were just ok, but the other 10 meals were fabulous and the oceanview cafe was great. we also tried the Asian fusion specialty restaurant which was good, but I think the hidden gem is the Bistro on 5. The crepes were outstanding definitely worth the extra $5 cover. Ok first thing getting to port, we took the train it is cheap but I have to say alot of work and not fun, we are a fit couple, we hike, bike, workout everyday and its doable but with the heat in August not fun especially hauling 2 bags each for 17 days away from home. The walk from the station to the port is about 4 blocks. Then there is a free bus that will have your ships name on it to take you to the boat you have to load your own luggage definitely the cheap way to do it. On the way back after the cruise the train was so full that I we had to Stand all the way back. I think the best option is to find someone on here and share a ride from Rome,with a private company not the ships transfers it may cost you $40-$60 more but you are on vacation and I think its worth it. Next thing we booked concierge class it was about $300 more (so I thought I would try it) but I have to say I dont think its worth it, you could use that extra money elsewhere. they give you champagne when you first arrive on the ship so the extra bottle in your room although a nice touch probably not necessary. The boat is fabulous and the prices are very reasonable, I mean if you go to a restaurant you pay $5 for a beer and $7 for a glass of wine so its very comparable. It never seems crowded except for at sea days. Our only complaint was the fact that parents allow their children to go crazy on this boat. We were stuck in between 2 families and were waken several times from the kids slamming doors running around, wrestling because the parents were leaving them unattended in the room which is against celebrity's policies. As the cruise went on kids were running the hallwyas chasing their new friends all night long. I understand this is what kids do, I just dont understand how parents let them run free like a pack of dogs and no considering there are 3000 other people on a boat. Celebrity was great about it, they called the parents which helped for 1 day then it happened again we called guest relations again, they contacted the parents again,we put up with this for 7 days, we couldnt sleep in we couldnt nap it felt like we were in romper room. Finally after the 7th day celebrity was able to move us because someone got off the ship. the next 5 nights were quiet. I just recommend that if you dont want to deal with children on a cruise go when they are in school. Last thing dembarkation, we asked to be in the last group because we were not flying out until the next day. Even so everyone was off the boat by 11. they try to accomodate you based on your flight time, so it is possible to catch a flight the day you get back, we actually pulled into Rome at 3 a.m. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We are independent travellers who normally rent a home for a week or two and travel around by car on our trips to Europe. When we first started planning this trip, I read a lot of posts on this site to give us a feel for what to expect. ... Read More
We are independent travellers who normally rent a home for a week or two and travel around by car on our trips to Europe. When we first started planning this trip, I read a lot of posts on this site to give us a feel for what to expect. I must say after reading the posts I was a little apprehensive about our choice of vacation. I read complaints about service, food, crowds, you name it! I can honestly say, with few exceptions, we had a nearly perfect experience. Embarkation & Disembarkation We booked our flights independently but purchased airport transfers from Celebrity. The process couldn't have been easier. As soon as we entered the baggage area we saw agents from Celebrity with placards. After we collected our bags, we were whisked to a waiting bus. Check-in at the port was quick and our cabin was ready when we boarded. It took a couple of hours to get our luggage but we had carried on a change of clothes and essential items so that was no big deal. Disembarkation was as easy. We booked a night at the Airport Hilton on our return and our bus driver actually dropped us off at the hotel even though we expected to have to walk from the airport to the hotel. Ship A lot has been written about the beauty of the ship so I won't spend a lot of time rehashing this info. I was surprised about how empty many of the public areas were considering the number of passengers on board. With the exception of the main pool area, the fitness center and the Martini bar, venues were rarely crowded. Even the pool area was manageable. We never had an issue finding a deck chair. The Pool Butlers did a good job of keeping vacated chairs cleared of towels. Our favorite areas of the ship were the Solarium and Persian Gardens relaxation at its best! Stateroom We booked in AquaClass so am not sure if our cabin reflects other cabin classes. I was extremely pleased with the size, layout and comfort of our cabin. The bed was very comfortable, we had more than adequate storage space and the shower panel was the next best thing to having a whirlpool tub. Our balcony was normal sized but perfect for enjoying a glass of wine and room service breakfast. We spent a lot of time on our balcony and will never book a cruise without this option in the future. Aqua Class Eating in Blu and using the Persian Gardens made AquaClass worth the extra cost. We also appreciated the bottled water provided daily. Food We were booked in the early seating in Blu. We loved the food but not the seating time options 6:15 is too early and 8:45 too late. We learned early on that you could come as late as 7:30 and still have plenty of time to dine. Blu is a beautiful setting that feels like a specialty restaurant. It was never more than half full at dinner any night. The food was very good and the portion sizes were perfect. I would have liked to see a few more fish/seafood options. My husband, the carnivore, was in heaven. We also tried all of the specialty restaurants and enjoyed them all. My husband said his meal in Murano was in his top 10 of all time. The only issue I had in any of these restaurants is that we tended to overeat not sure if that was due to our need to "get our money's worth" or the increased portion size. Our favorite option for lunch was the Aqua Spa Cafe it was the perfect interlude to a big breakfast and dinner. The chilled soups were particularly good, especially the pear. I am not a buffet fan so Oceanview Cafe was my least favorite dining option. The variety was great but I thought the food was so-so. We had room service breakfast twice. Our room steward warned us that on early port days, this is a popular option and that we might not get our food as promptly as we wanted. We didn't have this problem, however, the food was luke-warm. I learned the hard way that you need to write down the number of each item next to your order instead of just checking it. The first time we ordered, we got 2 of everything! We also used room service for appetizers twice. They were hot and delicious especially the Asian Teaser. Service This was the one area I was most concerned about based on Cruise Critic feedback. The service we received was great. Our room attendants kept our room spotless and attended to all our requests. Our dining room waitress provided us daily menu suggestions and our wine steward was great at suggesting reasonably priced wine selections based on our personal preferences. One service we really appreciated was having cold towels and water at the port embarkation area. The only glitch we had in service was the cancellation of our Roll Call Connections party. Once notified of the error, Celebrity did everything they could to reinstate it but some members missed the party. Ports I'm not going to go into detail about any of the ports here but can provide a couple of recommendations based on our experience. First, unless you are the type of person who has to see everything and do everything in port, I would recommend that you limit your port visits to a half day. Second, get off the ship as soon as you can to beat the crowds. This is especially important in Santorini where the crowds can overcome the transportation systems. Summary We thoroughly enjoyed our cruising experience and will definitely include cruising to our future vacation alternatives. While it doesn't provide the same level of local cultural immersion, it is a much more relaxing, less stressful way to see the sights. Celebrity was top notch Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
My husband and I are both 30 and this was the first cruise for both of us. We booked a Concierge Class room on the 12th deck (where the Pool and Spa were) and could not have picked a better location. We were at the very front of the ... Read More
My husband and I are both 30 and this was the first cruise for both of us. We booked a Concierge Class room on the 12th deck (where the Pool and Spa were) and could not have picked a better location. We were at the very front of the hallway near the elevators, but never heard any noise from people walking by or the elevators. It was great to be able to walk right out of the room to the pool deck or just up one flight of stairs to the Oceanview Cafe. We signed up for a Cruise Critic "meet & mingle" party which proved to be a huge mistake as there were several people who showed up apparently just to complain. It was only the second day of the cruise and this loud obnoxious woman kept going on and on about all the things that she disliked about the ship. Another fellow was griping about the shore excursions. I'm thinking, you KNEW what they were before you booked the cruise, so if you weren't interested, then why did you pick this ship?!? Anyhow...it was a colossal waste of time, and I wish we hadn't gone. I actually felt sorry for the cruise director because I could tell he was caught off guard being bombarded with complains so early in the trip! Dining - we ate lunch mostly at the Oceanview Cafe. It was fine. Nothing spectacular. We ate breakfast there each day as well - also fine, but nothing to write home about. I enjoyed our dinners in the main dining room. Our waiter was great and the meals were good. Again, nothing over the top...not really as fancy as I was expecting. But not bad, either. We ate several meals at the Bistro on Five and it was excellent! Well worth the $5 per person service charge. Room - As I mentioned, we had a Concierge Class room with a balcony. It was really nice. Plenty of storage for clothing. Bathroom was big (compared to what I was expecting) with a roomy shower. The balcony was great, and I think I will never be able to cruise again without getting a balcony room. The bed was VERY comfy. With Concierge Class we got daily hors d'oeuvres delivered each afternoon. Some were good, some weren't. Staff - I found the staff to be very friendly, although some of the waiters on the pool deck were a little pushy with the drinks. I did feel like they were told to "upsell" as much as possible. Pool - I never got IN the pool (as the outdoor pool was always filled with children), but laid out on the pool deck quite a bit. They definitely could do a better job of monitoring the people who would throw their towel on a chair and then leave it for HOURS. That was frustrating when the chairs would fill up and you couldn't find a place to sit, yet most of the chairs were empty except for a towel or magazine thrown on them. Tenders - SHOW UP EARLY for tickets. My husband went down to get tender boat tickets for us for Santorini and he got there half an hour before they were supposed to start handing them out and there was already a line. The bottom line is that you are only in port for a few hours, so if you don't get on one of the first few tender boats then you are really cutting into your sightseeing time. Shows - Well, the shows starring the Solstice cast were painful to watch. The dancing was so simplistic and the Broadway-style shows were cheesy. Some of the singers were good, but my husband and I couldn't get past the cheesiness. It just all seemed like junior high level performance. The other shows with outside performers were all much more enjoyable. Do not miss the Hot Glass Show or the Martini Bar. Both are extremely fascinating/entertaining! All in all it was a fabulous experience. The ship is just gorgeous and we found ourselves continually in awe the entire week. We would definitely sail Celebrity again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Our cruise on Celebrity Solstice sailing 27th July 2009 Eastern Mediterranean was truly a wonderful experience! So far we have travelled Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, this was the first time on Celebrity, and it will ... Read More
Our cruise on Celebrity Solstice sailing 27th July 2009 Eastern Mediterranean was truly a wonderful experience! So far we have travelled Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, this was the first time on Celebrity, and it will definitely not be the last. This is quite a lengthy review but you can skip the sections you don't need - it's meant for people like me who like to know a lot about what they will be getting out of their cruise. Embarkation was super easy after the online check-in. We had swim suits in our hand-luggage so we immediately had something to eat in the buffet restaurant and then went for a swim in the pool. The ship is extremely well thought-out and comfortable. The space available is planned intelligently so that it is very easy to find everything and have the maximum space possible. We never experienced crowding anywhere; in fact we were always wondering where all the people go! Not even on the busiest of sea days was it difficult to find a table in the buffet restaurant. There are many nooks and crannies where one can sit and relax - the sofas and armchairs in lounges and public areas are all soooo comfortable! I think this ship has the greatest number and greatest variety of comfortable seating so far. It's amazing. And it is extremely clean. Spotless bed linen, spotless staterooms, public rest-rooms, everywhere! In the restrooms I especially liked the sensor taps so you don't have to touch anything and also the automatic door openers which are really meant for the physically challenged but which actually are more hygienic than grabbing handles. And always hand sanitisation available, all over the ship. And HEARTFELT CONGRATULATIONS for the non-smoking policy - it is of the utmost importance as many people are non-smokers, extending also to the Casino on Celebrity Solstice. I hope that in the near future ALL the ship will be non-smoking. Having half the pool deck where smoking is permitted is too much. I'll start with the stateroom. It was marvellous, the best use of space we ever had. The shower was spacious thanks to the rounded sliding doors. A stroke of genius is the way the double bed has a round bottom edge, again providing more free space. The suitcases all fit under the bed - we were four persons in this Deluxe Ocean View with veranda quad (and believe me our suitcases are large!). There is a lot of storage space, including good-sized cupboards over the double bed besides the wardrobe and drawers, a floor to ceiling cabinet in the bathroom - very useful as three of us are females! Also, the staterooms have a sort of slanting hallway so that one stateroom fits against the wider area of the one next to it, resulting in a wider than usual space next to the bed - one has to see it I expect to understand what I mean; anyway the staterooms are more spacious than usual. A big plus were the veranda doors - both were floor to ceiling (on other ships we had one of them half way) and this gives so much light and space to the stateroom and makes it such a lovely personal space which is pleasant to be in! Towels, pillows and bed sheets were very clean and neat - this is very important to us and it would spoil my holiday to have smelly pillows. And here I would like to mention our stateroom attendants, Annalisa and her assistant Suzzet. They were both always very nice and attentive, always smiling and with some pleasant remark or other; above all they catered for all our needs and very quickly too. The stateroom was kept spic and span and orderly at all times. Thank-you both. Dining. This for us is a highlight, on any cruise, and although we were always very satisfied, I do have to say that on Solstice it was the best we ever had! In the Oceanview Cafe,which is the buffet restaurant, there is always an excellent variety of fresh and very tasty food, cooked appropriately and at the right temperature. The stations are set up with sense and they repeat themselves so there is no queuing. The carvery (we love meat) always had something juicy available and the Mexican, Asian and grill were a treat. And pizza and pasta on the go at virtually all times! The ice-cream is not only the usual soft ice-cream produced by a machine as on other ships, which is very good as well, but also a selection of scoop ice-cream that changes every day. The rocky road ice-cream topped with caramel sauce is to die for! With as many MnM's as you like in a separate bowl...Desserts are wonderfully presented so they tempt you whether you like it or not and they are as delicious as they look indeed! They are not overly sweet as desserts go. (On one ship in the past we had different looking cream cakes and things but they all tasted the same - not here!) And the cookies...can't forget the cookies...lovely cookies! Breakfast here offers delightful pancakes and waffles as well as personalised omelettes - and I do mean personalised as the waiter takes your name down and calls you when it's cooked, the way you like it of course! Plus cereals and fruit etc. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, water and a variety of juices are always available here which is another desirable thing this ship offers. All the crew were always helpful and pleasant, as anywhere on this ship for that matter. Now for the dining room, the Grand Epernay. It is very elegant and classy and the wine tower is the focal point. We had all our dinners here, late seating, as well as some lunches and breakfasts. For lunch and breakfast it was open seating and, as usual, all waiters were efficient and polite and always ready to make conversation after having seen to our needs. For dinner we had our own table and our own waiters, who must surely be the best as I cannot imagine better ones! They were Michael Alcantara from Manila and his assistant Peter. They worked top speed and were always on hand for all we needed - they refilled glasses and bread containers before we ourselves realised they were empty or nearly so! Michael got to know us very well by name and it was a pleasure when we had lunch from the buffet and he was on duty there. He always remembered we wanted fries on the side! He was always very smart and neat too. Michael also let us know of any special events that same evening after dinner or on the following day so that we didn't miss anything - very efficient. Peter was always working unobtrusively making sure we lacked nothing. Both men worked very well together too, and they do their utmost, it's not just a job to be done to get paid for. I must also mention our sommelier, Ioana - she was so very nice and attentive, always smiling, and kept topping up just at the right moment. The drinks waiter was very efficient too and kept bringing drinks (we had the soda package for one of my daughters) without her having to tell him. We did not use speciality restaurants because we think that we would have already paid enough for the food and why pay more when the dining room food and service is excellent?! The food was always excellent and presented beautifully and at the correct temperature, not cold or warm when it should be hot. We loved the surprises in the creative combination of ingredients to make innovative dishes. Steaks were lovely (we love meat as I said before) and cooked exactly as we like them. Soups very tasty, duck delicious...I could go on for ever. Sometimes it was difficult to choose because we wanted to try many of the dishes on the menu! A very good idea was the brunch. We were docking early afternoon so going down from the ship for excursions then. Having lunch before going down would have been too close to breakfast so breakfast and lunch were combined in a sumptuous and spectacular buffet in the dining room - we really enjoyed it! Another sumptuous buffet not to be missed was the chocolate night - again it was very well-organised, being held in the Sky lounge there was plenty of room for everyone as well as plenty of goodies! (On another ship we once had to queue to take photos and were told not to eat anything and then we were made to queue again to have a go at the goodies, so we gave up and left) We had a great deal of attention from the maitre d' in charge of our section, unlike on other ships. He spoke to us on many occasions. He even recognised us when we had breakfast or lunch by open seating, so on different tables, and came over to talk to us. He is Marcel from Croatia and he explained many interesting facts about the dining experience we so enjoyed. My daughter wanted me to mention the HP sauce on Solstice - she loves it but never found it on other ships! The Cafe al Bacio has pastries and desserts that you will not be charged for, even if you take away. The only difference is that for take-away you get them on a napkin while if you stay for coffee (you pay for coffee) you get them on a plate. The Martini bar is a must! We really enjoyed watching the barmen juggling bottles and pouring from a stack of shakers all at once into separate glasses of course! One thing we really appreciated is that no announcements are made in the staterooms - that means you can rest peacefully knowing you won't be woken up all of a sudden. It also means you have to read the daily programme carefully and remember what you want to do. As regards the pool deck, we always found deckchairs in the shade as we wanted. Once, our parents came later than we did, and couldn't find a pair of deckchairs. Four deckchairs in front of us had been unoccupied for the whole of the two hours we had been there, with a book placed on them to keep them free. I told the pool butler that it was unfair as after half an hour left unoccupied deckchairs should be free for someone else. In fact he told us to place the books beneath the deckchairs and make use of them, upholding the policy. Well done, good for him! In fact there are loads of deckchairs and so it should never be a problem. Pool butlers are there to help out and they always did so. Even in the Solarium, which is so relaxing, when a couple brought their small kids and they started splashing about and screaming the pool butler quietly asked them to use the other pools. And rightly so because while most of the time we preferred the noise and bubbly atmosphere of the outdoor pools, on occasion we wanted to doze quietly and relax - the Solarium is meant for that! As regards the ports, everything was fine. We didn't take excursions for Mykonos and Santorini - there is no need. They are lovely holiday islands with cute, narrow, winding streets, all white buildings with bright blue woodwork. Quaint! The excursions we took were well-timed and interesting. We took the two day excursion for Istanbul and the ones for Ephesus and Athens. We liked Ephesus best but that is subjective. The Virgin Mary's house is significant to us as Catholics (the atmosphere of the place) while the Roman ruins are awesome when you think how clever they were so long ago. Take a sunshade with you. Istanbul was ok, the mosques were something new for us but it's a totally different sort of cultural wealth than what we are used to in European Palaces and Cathedrals. We had only one and a half hours in the Grand Bazaar but it was enough. What you must definitely keep in mind anywhere in Turkey is that if you're sure you don't want to buy anything don't show the least interest, don't even sneak a peek in a shop window! You won't get away unless you border on being rude - they have the knack for it. We had very efficient ear-phones in Istanbul and Ephesus but not so in Athens. In Athens there were four cruise ships in port and the tour leaders bungled it up because they all kept stopping to talk to their groups at the same spot, a bottleneck, and so there were hundreds and hundreds of us stuck for an hour in the remorseless heat of the early August sun, on the final steps leading to the Parthenon. That quite spoilt the magic of the site. And when we got back down, hot and utterly parched, we bought the first drinks we could find before boarding the coach and they charged us horribly for them. Naples we had been before so we just walked about the town and did some shopping - very good-priced but trendy clothing for my daughters, 18 and 16 and who can get into the smallest of sizes! As for Celebrity, as usual that special touch, ice cold towels and water on the pier before boarding, so welcome after the heat! It felt so much like getting home after trudging about. Entertainment was fine - there were some very talented performers. We liked the violin player and Mario with his electric guitar. Also the late night comedian. Obviously the best show was the Solstice one, with the acrobats and gymnasts and so on. It was really fantastic! Well done indeed to the Solstice Band, the singers especially the four lead ones and the string quartet who played also elsewhere on the ship. Another plus for us was having Mass said, especially the Saturday evening one; it means a lot for us to dedicate some time to thank the Lord amidst all the fun and merry-making. One last thing; we had prepaid gratuities, like on other cruise lines. However the difference was that not once were tips or gratuities mentioned throughout the cruise, unlike on other cruise ships where they keep on harping about it. The staff all worked hard and willingly and a special mention seems to go a long way. They all deserve it. As the Captain told us (and the comedian quoted with a misplaced accent!) this was the best cruise ever. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Well we started our big family vacation  in Rome a few days before the sailing so that we can show our kids (teenagers ages 18,15, 12 and younger daughter age 8) .the sights, smells and wonders of Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Ponte Sisto ... Read More
Well we started our big family vacation  in Rome a few days before the sailing so that we can show our kids (teenagers ages 18,15, 12 and younger daughter age 8) .the sights, smells and wonders of Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Ponte Sisto which was a great place to stay for an American family . the rooms were modern and very clean  and the front desk personnel all spoke English and were very helpful with taxis and restaurant recommendations. Also, the hotel has a beautiful courtyard in which they serve a lovely breakfast including eggs, bacon, etc..  Onto the cruise...   We took a car service to the port which in retrospect was a good idea because the town of Civitavecchia was a bit confusing and I heard from other people on the boat that some of the car rental agencies were closed for lunch and taxis were not easy to find...The check-in process was smooth and were were able to get on the boat by 12:30 for lunch...the rooms were then ready a short while later. We had two conceirge class rooms on deck 10 which worked out very nicely. We had 3 people in each room, and though i was concerned about space and storage, it all worked out fine as the rooms had good places to store clothes and the bathrooms were terrific also had storage space for toiletries.   The ship is beautiful, every where you go there is an interesting architectural detail and a comfortable chair to sit in. The staff on the ship work very hard and kept al of the public areas very clean. I was impressed by the cleanliness of the Oceanview Cafe ( Buffet dining room) .you did not see empty trays, or glasses for more than 2-3 minutes before they were picked up, and the presentation of all of the food at the buffet was always clean and fresh.   The main dining room had some nice views and again the staff was fantastic. The food was very good and there were always many choices for dinner to please all. We also ate in the Tuscan grill and the Asian restaurant Silk harvest. Once again the service in these two dining rooms was outstanding .Reservations were made for both of these restaurants once we got on the ship with no problems.   My youngest daughter enjoyed the youth programs which like Royal Caribbean was open from 9 am until late at night if you chose to do the slumber party options (10pm-1am )..She mostly went in the afternoons or evenings and was very happy with the staff and the activities. The teens ages 12-18 had a much looser schedule but were very happy...I would encourage teens to go to the get together events the first day so that they feel comfortable with the group in the beginning.   The shows were very good and the music on the ship was impressive. Check out the A cappella group on the boat..Sold Out..they performed in a few of the shows and at various spots around the ship...The band ( headliners?) was also very good.   The cruise director Drew had a great sense of humor and by the end of the trip I would stay at the end of each show just to hear his stories and jokes.   Overall a busy itinerary but great ship! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Just came back from 11 night Eastern Med on Solstice.  My husband and I are both 50 and we were accompanied by out 13 yr old son.  This was a second cruise for all of us, previously having traveled on HAL's Veendam to Western ... Read More
Just came back from 11 night Eastern Med on Solstice.  My husband and I are both 50 and we were accompanied by out 13 yr old son.  This was a second cruise for all of us, previously having traveled on HAL's Veendam to Western Caribbean.  Although we have not cruised extensively, we have traveled pretty extensively, staying and 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts. Solstice exceeded our standards.  Do not believe the negative reviews.  Solstice is a gem in almost every way.  Embarkation went very smoothly.  Our stateroom was lovely with a nice size balcony (which we all thought is an essential for a Med cruise).  Although Celebrity claimed our Concierge Class room slept four, we felt three was the maximum.  Concierge Class was definitely worth the extra money.  We only paid about $200 more for all three people and we considered that to be a bargain.  With the extra pillow top bedding, this bed was one of the best we have ever had in any hotel, including Westin and Four Seasons.  We loved our Frette bath robes instead of the waffle robes in the other staterooms.  I also chose different pillows and everything was delivered to our room with a big smile by our wonderful stateroom attendant Joseph.  Instead of canapes, we had a cheese, fruit and cracker platter delivered to our room each day.  The flowers and fruit platters were refreshed daily as well.  In addition as CC travelers, we received a large blue Celebrity tote that is very similar to those made by Longchamps.  The TV selection was very good as well. The public spaces on Solstice were breathtaking.  From the pools, to the spa to the lobby, to the restaurant wing, Celebrity has really outdone themselves.  I sometimes forgot I was on a ship, only to be reminded by the gorgeous Med views as we were sailing.  Nary a bump or bounce were felt during the whole voyage.  The only way we knew if we had left or arrived at a port was by looking out a window.  That is how smooth the entire voyage was.  Captain Dimitrios and his whole crew do a great job and the Captain has a great sense of humor. While mostly everything was perfect, there were a few things Celebrity can still work on.  Yes it is true you have to get up by 9AM in order to secure a good chaise by the pool, but the ship is filled with so many nooks and crannies of seating area that it didn't really bother me.  What did bother me was the loudness of the music at the pool area.  I found it difficult to read sometimes and would opt for the quiet of my stateroom verandah.  It would be nice if there was more music free time by the pool area. The food was uneven.  Although everything sounded delicious in The Grand Epernay, the execution wasn't always the same.  There were some really good dishes however.  I live in the NYC metro area and am very fussy about food and will say that everything was certainly very edible.  One very pleasant surprise was the wine list.  It was both affordable and varied.  I am not a Chardonnay drinker and like other less common varieties.  I was able to find almost all of the wine wine I like to drink on the wine list.  That really shocked me.  My travel agent gave us a bottle of wine onboard (Chardonnay) and our wine steward very graciously exchanged it for a bottle to my liking.  Service in the MDR was outstanding!  Aker, our waiter, was so terrific that we all wanted to take him home with us.  I really enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the Aqua Spa Cafe.  The lunches especially were all delicious, creative and portioned appropriately.  We also ate at Silk Harvest and Tuscan Grille.  Both were very good and the service was top-notch! As a New Yorker and having seen many Broadway shows, I can say the shows don't compare to the Great WHite Way but they were entertaining enough.  I loved getting exercise on Sea Days on the jogging track.  I used the gym once, but I didn't want to wait so I preferred to walk outside.  The spa was beautiful and I had the best massage I ever had.  I also felt they weren't to hawkish about selling the spa products which I liked. The shopping on the ship was decent.  I loved a cosmetic product at home and was surprised to find the exact same product onboard for the regular price.  The last sea day they even made a "Solstice Grand Bazaar" which sold items from all the ports we visited.   The best part of the cruise was the outstanding itinerary.  Celebrity really has a gem with this one.  Every single port was amazing.  Since I have come back friends and family have asked which port was the best and I can honestly say they all were the best.  We started in Santorini.  I got on line for Tender tickets at about 8 and was able to get on the first tender.  We hired private guides at every port but Mykonos.  We were very glad we did.  In Santorini, we were supposed to have Nick, but someone else showed up.  She did a good enough job.  She did take us to a fabulous fish taverna right on the beach called Galini. We took the donkey up to Fira and I strongly recommend doing that.  My son convinced me to do it and I am glad he did.  The sunset in Santorini was unforgettable. We walked around Mykonos on our own and then went to the town beach.  We took the shuttle to town.  It was $10 per person and you could go back and forth as much as you wanted.  Well worth it.  We loved Mykonos.  It is a charming town with great shopping and tavernas. In Istanbul we had 2 half days and had a great guide named Kagan Kosagan who took us to the major sites and turned everything into a fascinating story.  He ordered street food for us outside the Spice Market nd that was really great.  We also got into an old synagogue through his connections, even though the synagogue was closed to the public.  We did not eat dinner on the ship.  We went to 360 Istanbul, a very trendy and delicious modern fusion restaurant with 360 views.  The restaurant is located on Istiklal Cadessi which is a pedestrian street and is quite the scene on Friday night. Next was Kusadasi, a surprisingly wonderful port.  Great shopping and off course Ephesus.  We had a superb guide named Nahide from Ekol Travel.  She was both warm and extremely knowledgeable.  She directed us to a terrific kebab house after the tour named Oz Urfa.  It is on a side alley off the main pedestrian shopping street.  Go There! In Athens we used Tony from VIP Taxi Servicesalso wonderful.  We saw the Acropolis, Plaka and the very hip Kolonaki area.  We ate at Platanos Taverna in Plaka and it was very good. Our last stop was Naples.  We used Salvatore of Drive Amalfi.  He was wonderful too.  A real gentleman!  He drove us to Pompeii.  We did not hire a private guide there and that was perhaps our only mistake.  Pompeii was overwhelming.  It Turkey, for the price of a tour you get a driver and a tour guide.  Not so in Italy and Greece.  The driver acts as a guide, but cannot guide you through the ancient sites due to the local laws.  Then he took us to Positano.  The beauty of Positano and the whole Amalfi coast blew me away.  Last stop was a mini-tour of Naples and a stop at Pizzeria Brandi where pizza was first invented.  It was beyond delicious.  At the end of the trip, no ATM would give us Euros so Salvatore was nice enough to accept a charge card,even though we were supposed to pay in cash. We used Zelit limo for our transfers to and from the airport.  they worked out well and they were the most reasonable we could find.  Disembarkation literally took 2 minutes.  It was that perfectly executed! All in all the trip of a lifetime.  The combination of the luxury of Solstice and the outstanding ports created a vacation we will never forget! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
The Ship is beautiful, classy and well laid out as mentioned many times before.   The buffet area was a bit of a bun fight on occasion and on sea days the ship was busy but most of the time it never seemed too crowded anywhere ... Read More
The Ship is beautiful, classy and well laid out as mentioned many times before.   The buffet area was a bit of a bun fight on occasion and on sea days the ship was busy but most of the time it never seemed too crowded anywhere and it was easy to enjoy quiet times on much of the ship. The lawn was well kept and we found it great to walk, sit, drink and play on it. Staterooms We had a  c.c room right at the back of the ship, 1676, which was a little tight for 2 plus an untidy 13 year old but very comfortable and well appointed, the bathrooms are spacious with a good large power shower and lots of room for 'stuff' .  One word of warning! The back balconies are great for relaxing (no soot noticed) but one evening we returned to find vomit all over the balcony. My wife lost the urge for our late night drinks al fresco after this. Guest Relations failed miserably when I reported this.   Service On the whole service was very good. Our room attendant Deniz worked unobtrusively and catered to all our wishes. Our waiters in the Grand Eperney were magnificent! Imade and Imade, collectively known as Eminem were so charming and friendly but very professional, remembering our previous requests and likes and ensuring we never had to ask again for them on following mealtimes. The kids and teens were looked after so well that they looked forward to dining there every night. The sommelier, Mihaela, was an absolute peach, professional, charming, knowledgeable and pretty to boot! There were great drinks to be had in a few of the bars, the Martini bar and the Ensemble Lounge in particular were memorable though a martini too many and you wouldn't even remember what day it was. Particularly disappointing were the drinks in the Theatre, we had badly made ones, some with wrong ingredients, some sickly sweet and once so late in coming that the show had finished! don't worry though , the martini bar is just outside and we quickly learned to bring one with us to the shows   Shows/music The Solstice 'cirque style' show was great and the 'Starring you' guest talent competition was obviously a lot of fun because..well it starred us, the guests! Note to Entertainments Officer - I'm not sure if having 2 violin based shows is a good idea, hearing The devil went down to Georgia, Riverdance, and Popera's greatest hits more than once is too much for anybody in a 10 day period. Some great musicians were to be heard around the ship, hats off in particular to cheeky young accapella quartet Soul'd Out with great vocal arrangements of Creedence and Neil Diamond in that 50's do wop style. A swinging piano trio cropped up around the ship, augmented by hip young(ish) vocalist Victor in the Ensemble Lounge coming on like Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet rolled into one - excellent. A mention must be made of the piped music and pool D.J also, it is difficult but I believe Celebrity have got it just right with cool jazz, soul, ballads and R&B, laid back but not too commercial and cheesy as can happen when trying to cater for a large cross section of people. The D.J managed to play contemporary chilled out House music with broad appeal too; as someone who finds most of that 4/4 techno club music mind numbingly dull I enjoyed sizzling out on the deck with the music and sunshine!   Food The buffet was a bit 'samey'  with little imagination or variety but the quality of ingredients were very decent. Coffee was an improvement on last years Sea Princess voyage but still dire! A big plus was the thirst quenching and not too sweet still lemonade available around the clock. We dined on the second sitting and had good, sometimes excellent food most of the time however a couple of times the food was a little tepid served on cold plates, you could see the waiters are aware that there is a service issue from the kitchen side of things, come on chef, sort it out, you know it can be done! The last formal evening's dinner was disappointing with cold unappetizing food and a crap menu. Again, you can see the waiters fire fighting, bringing extra dishes to taste and entertaining the kids and such but bad is bad I'm afraid. Speciality Dining We dined in Murano, the French fine dining restaurant for an extra 30 bucks a head.   I really don't know anywhere you can have a classic and impeccable dining experience like this without blowing a really serious amount of money.   Putting aside the food, which was beautiful - whole Dover sole, properly boned tableside, gorgeous snail tortellini and the best soufflE I've eaten in years, so often these days they are twice baked and taste like flavoured omelette soufflEs now I have stopped ordering them in restaurants. If you really loved something they are happy to bring you another portion, as they are elsewhere but without another 100 bucks on the bill!   Oh yes, putting aside the food, the ambience is refined and elegant and the service is outstanding, both cheeky and professional at the same time, and drinking a favourite wine in the correct glass is a joyful experience.   I predict this place will start to appear in the guides soon though I don't know how Michelin will stretch to sending their inspectors on a cruise!   We also dined at Silk Harvest, the Asian Fusion restaurant that carries a 20 dollar surcharge. It is a great room and dining there is fun with the sharing plates, you can order the whole menu if you like but I wouldn't recommend it! My wife cannot eat rice and they were happy to make a large plate of sashimi for us, Tuna, shrimp, eel, tilapia and salmon. Unfortunately the fish was all a little flaccid and the rest of the food was just so so. I would not return to a restaurant serving this food back home in Blighty,  it was more cheap noodle joint or chop suey house than 'upscale Asian Fusion'      Ports The ports of call on this 10 night cruise were Civitavecchia, Messina, Athens Mykonos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Naples, then  back to Civitavecchia. We really enjoyed the itinerary of this cruise and these were our personal highlights;   Mykonos What a funky little Greek Island, the people were friendly and we spent half a day lounging on the beach in the Town centre and being whipped by the coarse sand and ferocious wind - very nice and cheaper than the exfoliating massage on board. I sneaked off for a chicken giro that I had been pining for.   Kusadasi Another great place to wander around, we planned on Ephesus but it was just too damn hot to be wandering around ruins after touring the furnace that was Athens. The girls went mad in the shops, terrorising the young Turks and giving them a taste of their own medicine 'You have no nice bags, why? These are cheap, not good quality, do you have a cousin' we laughed a lot and I bought a suit as the sea air seemed to have shrunk everything I had brought with me. A Turkish bath and massage was had by all (and a couple more kebabs).   Santorini Wow! Dramatic scenery or what! After a trip up the cable car and a wander around town the 7 of us hired a boat to take us around the sites. I wish we had found Stathis and his boat 'Anemos' earlier. For a couple of euros more per person than the big boats which were choc full of people we had this amazing boat to ourselves with the charming Stathis at the helm. After a trip along the coast and a visit to the Caldera we were lucky enough to get to the hot springs without another soul in sight, we had a half hour lolling in the murky yellow hot water and as we swam back to our boat 3 more big boat loads arrived and about 200 people threw themselves in the sea heading towards us, we felt privileged to have had it to ourselves, a delightful trip You can find Stathis down on the waterfront and his number is 22860 22932 or 6937 199 033. We asked him for a restaurant recommendation and spent the rest of the afternoon eating grilled fish and drinking beer with a view. An outstanding day.   Napoli I overheard someone on board saying they had walked into Naples and found it lacklustre so returned to the ship. Oh dear, they never discovered why Naples was first stop on the itinerary of every Gentleman and Lady's Grand European Tour back in the day, why they say 'see Naples and die' or why it was once the most visited place in Europe after London and Paris. The architecture is magnificent and the views of the bay, well they really are to die for! If you do not want to take the ships afternoon tour which my Italian Aunt did and proclaimed excellent you can take the open topped tourist bus that we took (family ticket 66 euros for 2 adults and 3 kids up to 18), the recorded commentary through headphones is interesting and do make sure you do the coastal route as 4 different routes are available. It was hotter than July and I also learned patience is indeed a virtue.   A fabulous plate of spaghetti vongole in a backstreet trattoria ended a magical day.   For anyone wanting a trip to Herculaneum the local ferry takes 10 minutes and costs 3.5 euros, it departs at 9.10 but give yourself time to buy a ticket from the office right on the dock by the cruise terminal. There are a couple of ferries back in the P.M but you can also get the local train. I never knew it was so close by sea; cheap too; I shall try not to miss it next time!   Conclusion There were 11 of us on the cruise ranging from 7 to 70 and we all enjoyed it and felt well catered for. I would probably not cruise on Solstice again - I now know that I prefer a smaller ship as it is easier to bump into people more than once but I shall look forward to sailing on another smaller class Celebrity ship in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
My wife and I are first time cruisers and although unfamiliar with the terrain (or seascape as the case may be) I will venture several opinions in this review that I hope will be helpful to any cruisers - newbie and seasoned alike.  ... Read More
My wife and I are first time cruisers and although unfamiliar with the terrain (or seascape as the case may be) I will venture several opinions in this review that I hope will be helpful to any cruisers - newbie and seasoned alike.  Firstly the Celebrity Solstice is a remarkably sophisticated ship with an adult flavor (no rockwalls - no water slides) and a staff that caters to your every need and want.  It makes you think of what elegant cruising may have been like back in the days of regular transatlantic crossings.   To begin, we arrived at Rome FCO airport on the 16th of July ex NYC JFK via Alitalia airlines.  Those who may have followed my luggage concerns on CruiseCritic over Alitalia's 11 lb carry-on restrictions need not worry to much as passengers on our ½ full evening flight going and full early afternoon flight returning to NYC ex Rome FCO were not scrutinized much and I could have walked on with a steamer trunk going to Rome and no one would have noticed.  Just kidding of course but with that said I would not take the chance as one lady was stopped at boarding in Rome with a piece over 11 lbs.  But everybody seemed to have large bulky luggage boarding that I am sure weighed well over 11 lbs.  I still would follow our plan and check 3 pieces thru and have 2 carry-ons pp placing one smaller piece, with critical essentials you need to board with, inside the larger piece (also filled around with personal items around the edges) plus the second smaller second carry-on you are allowed.  If stopped at boarding than just pull out the smaller piece from the larger carry-on and redistribute your belongings giving the larger piece now to the attendant to check thru as your 4th allowable piece of checked luggage.  Now you both walk on with your 2 allowable and legal pieces of carry-on luggage.  The weight and size restrictions have penalties that are high, starting at 50 Euros and going up as high as  150 Euros for a third piece of checked luggage pp with weight and size penalties applying on top of that!  I fretted many a night over this I don't see an alternative plan with Alitalia accept for booking with another Airline whose weight carry-on restrictions can be as high as 30 lbs!  I am not so much a seasoned air passenger but I see I may have to go back to school for another degree - this one on the science of airline luggage requirements or how to beat the system at their own game.  Both flights were smooth, fast and my luggage arrived with me so I am not going to complain...for now. My wife and I, along with a friend we met on CC and arranged to meet at FCO, transferred to the port city of Civitavecchia and stayed at the Hotel Bramante.  Please remember that the 45 minute transfer will run 110-140 Euros depending on the transfer company you may use so get on the CC boards early to arrange to share your ride if you are so inclined.  The Hotel Bramante is a wonderful boutique style hotel - modern and clean - with a full breakfast and within walking distance of several beaches and the port promenade which caters to a lively night time crowd mingling between many nicely decorated restaurants.  The hotel staff was kind and attentive and the owner even gave us a lift to our restaurant engagement at the port.  We dined with several of our new cruise mates and then we strolled the promenade, stopped for some gelato, people watched all those that came out at 10 pm to be seen, strolled out on a walkway jetty to catch the cool summer nighttime breeze off the Mediterranean Sea and on the way back to the promenade eyed a Salsa dance party/instruction on a make shift dance floor on the beach!  Very cool.   We boarded the Solstice the next day about 1 pm.  The Hotel Bramante offers a free transfer (about 10 minutes away) to dockside.  Checking in was a breeze.  We got to our room and our luggage followed about an hour later.  BTW, I did not take any notes or keep a journal here so I am doing all of this by memory.  Keeping a vacation journal is not a bad idea.  My good friends, SandG, whom we met on the CC boards and later teamed up with on several private tours, just wrote me to say how from the journals that S keeps, they visited the same pensions in Switzerland a few years ago that they had stayed at on their honeymoon some years earlier! Now that is record keeping.  As this cruise overall was wonderful and very memorable it should not be difficult to recall the highlights and I will try my best to be informative.  We were fortunate enough to secure a cabin in Aqua Class and although the difference in Aqua Class and most of the other veranda cabins are negligible there does exist several difference that are noticeable.  Room size, veranda and bathrooms are the same size.  The main differences are that in Aqua Class you get a fresh fruit plate each day, a plate of several tiny finger food selections that we canceled, the towels which are very fluffy and luxurious, the bathrobes which are waffled and thick and the shower has a large diameter rainfall shower head with 5 water jets along a vertical unit that runs parallel to your body and pulsates water at your body from knee to chest.  I didn't think those jets would make much of an impact but I have to admit I became attached to my showering regiment after the first time.  The fruit was nice and you can take them out with you on port excursions but you can easily go up to the Ocean View Cafe and accomplish the same result.  Two bottles of water are supplied each day but I understand that also occurs at the other cabin classes.  Other than that there is not much difference.  If you are as lucky as we were and found the cabin price drop to $100 difference between Concierge Class and Aqua Class then why not go for it.  Do check on line with CelebrityCruise.com every day for price fluctuations.  Our good friends, JSpirit and SandG, whom we met on-line with CruiseCritic, looked out for us and got us considerable savings several times by just checking and being aware.  I learned a good lesson on that front.  If I told you I saved $2000 would you believe me?  Believe it.  There are other amenities advertised with Aqua Class such as priority tender boarding and disembarking but that never was an issue for us. Some how the cabin staff knew exactly when you would be stepping out of you cabin for a spell and when you returned your bed was made and your personal things put in a neat and orderly arrangement for your convenience.  I will say that the mini bar was nicely stocked and reasonably priced...2,50 E for a coke if I am not mistaken.  If you are like me and do not drink alcohol you may do as I did not and ask for the alcohol in the mini bar to be removed to make more room in the mini bar for other items.  Sometimes I just end up doing things the hard way and it drives my wife crazy.  Your bed is also turned down each night while you are out of the cabin with chocolates left out on the bed for most class cabins. If there are just two of you and you have global capabilities on your cell phones you may want to consider purchasing an extra wide spaced 4 outlet 3 prong power strip to accommodate chargers and the like.  Monster makes one that I found to work well so that you can charge 2 cell phones, a digital camera and camcorder at the same time easily.  You can pick it up at Radio Shack for less than $10!  A few of us in our on-line "cruise crew" group got the power strip and it worked well. There is plenty of storage space in the cabins.  Besides closet and drawer space, there is an above the bed cabinet storage area and under the bed storage.  In the bathroom there are 5-6 storage shelves to accommodate most of your sundries.  I have heard some people complain about the closet space.  I can't quite understand that.  No one should do what I did, as a newbie, anyway, and over pack.  I had to have one suitcase open as storage due to my own over indulgence.  It was ok but no need to over do it like that again   Normally speaking the closet is more than adequate to accommodate anyone's average 10 day stay at sea.  After all, you are not relocating to Las Vegas like I was pretending to do, as my DW insisted.  The tv has a good selection of movies, news and comedy.  My only complaint is I wish the remote control and tv were more responsive.  Channel changing and volume are slow but I think that is inherent either in the signal or the electronics of an LCD tv.  I find the same thing on my big screen at home.  Sometimes I miss my big box JVC TV set as I could fly around the channels with my remote.  Now let's look at the dining.  For breakfast you have several choices.  Room service is fantastic.  You can call at 7 AM and have you breakfast delivered to your room, with everything you requested, by 7:30 AM and dining on your veranda by 7:35 AM with the Mediterranean Sea racing by under your feet or inside the caldera at Santorini facing the cliff town of Fira or viewing the walled Old City at Rhodes harbor.  Either way it is a wonderful way to start the day. Or you can breakfast at the Ocean View cafe with a huge selection of items to choose from.  Or if you are In Aqua Class you can breakfast off a complete menu in the Blu Restaurant with waiter service from 7:30 AM to 9 AM.  There are also smaller venue cafes around the ship from which to choose a light breakfast. Lunch is self serve at the Ocean View Cafe or at the other smaller venues like the Bistro at 5 with waiter service or the pool side cafes.  Crepes to steak are available with much to choose from in between. Dinner is a very special experience as you can imagine.  Formal days are normally the 2 sea days on a 10 day cruise...day 3 and day 9.  But that is always at the discretion of the Ships Captain/Master.  Formal wear is tux/suit for men and cocktail dress, gown or dressy pant suit for ladies.  I will try and make this brief by only saying that each of the 5 major restaurants: the MDR - open to all; Tuscan (Italian), Morano (French) and Silk Harvest (Asian)- each from $20 -30 pp; and Blu - similar to MDR with a varied cuisine but only available to Aqua Class passengers, are all wonderful dining experiences in their own right.  All restaurants are all you can eat.  The dining service in each is impeccable.  Your courses are delivered promptly, the waiter staff is very friendly and remembers your particular likes and requirements readily, the maitre d' and ass't maitre d' make a point of coming to your table to chat with you each evening and seconds are always available for every course.  If you want try the fish and pasta main courses at the same time, than you may.  And this all holds true for each of the 5 restaurants I mentioned above.  I will have to leave the wine review for someone else as I don't drink alcohol but if my 6th sense is as sharp as I would hope I would venture to guess that whatever your grape requirement may be I am pretty sure that your tastes can be accommodated.  The MDR has a 3 story high wine silo rising off the main floor in the middle of the MDR!  Also each of the 5 main restaurants has their own dedicated kitchen.  You can read about the other smaller dining venues in on-line reviews thru google.  Bistro At 5, that has a $5 cover charge for all you can eat, is also a fine dining facility for light fare including delicious crepes.  I have said before here on CC that I do not run in fine dining circles very often in NYC where I live.  I have dined with clients (before I started teaching mathematics I worked in the marketing departments of several Steamship lines including Italian Lines) over the years at such wonderful eateries as Peter Luger Steakhouse in my adopted borough of Brooklyn (I was born and raised in Manhattan), Windows On The World at the late 1WTC, the old Quilted Giraffe, 21 Club, and One If By Land, arguably the most romantic restaurant in NYC.  I would feel comfortable with going out on a limb by saying any of the main restaurants on the Solstice, even the huge MDR, could rival the best NYC restaurants in cuisine and service.  Anybody that thinks differently reminds me of the girls my mother would warn me about...the clothes label "blanks".  To such people only popularity, such as to see and be seen, becomes the most meaningful reason to dine, regardless of the service or cuisine.  Don't let that fool you.  These restaurants on the Solstice are top notch.  But which food critic in their right mind would dare rate a cruise ship restaurant highly.  They would be laughed off the planet.  Oh well...let it be our secret then.  I guess I did have a lot to say about dining. Unfortunately I cannot comment about much of the entertainment.  I had a late dining seating (8:45PM) and coming off land tours at 5PM often had my wife and I missing the early show due to the exhaustion of 110 degree weather at Ephesus for example (don't get me wrong, I am not complaining.  It just is what it is) and then dining through the late show.  I did catch 2 shows in the Solstice theatre.  One was a series of well choreographed and adeptly sung past and present Broadway show tunes (I am sorry, I do not remember the show title) in a montage format that would rival any Off Broadway production.  Being from Manhattan I have some exposure to that level of entertainment.  And the other is a show called Pulse that is a Cirque du Soleil type show.  I have seen CDS in Montreal and Las Vegas several times and they are the standard.  I also have seen the CDS show that comes to NYC's Randalls Island each spring and I would say that the Solstice Pulse show is better than the NYC CDS show.  Those performers, on the Solstice multi million dollar techno stage, are truly marvelous athletes and entertainers and could easily step into any real CDS performance, I am sure. I have heard that people did miss the old tried and true hypnotist on many cruise ships.  A fun thing to experience I am sure.  And also some had commented that they would have liked to see a more risquE adult type comedian at a late show.  No matter what your moral bent some of those jokes can be downright side splitting. Finally, I will briefly (that is plan at least) comment on the ports visited on this 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise.  Most of the ports have been reviewed extensively on CC and other internet sites.  I will only attempt to be informative and helpful in my commentary here.  In Sicily, Taormina is a must see unless you have family there to visit with.  Syracusa and Catania are a bit out of reach for a short day tour and Palermo is not really a worthwhile touristy spot. I give myself permission to say that as I am part Sicilian.  Mt. Etna, near Taormina, is a point of interest if volcanoes are your thing.  So opposite of what Horace Greely wrote, "Go east young man". Athens - The Athenians are wonderful friendly and generous people.  The Acropolis is MUST.  It is the cradle of western civilization and awe inspiring. The Plaka shopping and dining district is a pleasant diversion.  If time permits the Nat'l Archeological Museum is wonderful and just as important is the brand new Archeological Museum  open last month just outside the Acropolis/Plaka area.  The downside is that Athens needs a face lift.  Everybody comments on that and you will see it for yourself.  It is worn and graffiti ridden and the housing is box like gray units reminding you of a failed attempt at socialism.  It is a shame.  Such a wonderfully historic venue filed with lovely, vibrant and fun loving people living in such a drab surroundings.  Now let us go to Rhodes and compare the differences. Rhodes - As soon as you step off the ship into Old Town and travel 20-30 km inland you noticed several things immediately starting at Old Town and continuing out to the outskirts of town.  Everywhere the greenery and flora (EVERYWHERE!) is freshly cut and manicured.  The trees and bushes are all trimmed nicely.  The streets are immaculately clean.  They must have little gremlins that come out at night to landscape the island!  This is an inviting island that wants you visiting it again and again. Everywhere that you look invites you to come back again.  The houses and apartment buildings are colorful, clean and modern looking - all with an inviting character.  It is probably the most pleasant place to roam freely on this cruise....taking nothing away from Santorini and Mykonos.  But when you think about Rhodes and the turmoil it has gone through over the ages and being conquered over and over again by all of the cultures surrounding it on the Mediterranean perimeter, you have to admire the resiliency of these people who continue to want to live well and with pride.  It is wonderful to appreciate.  I think it is a remarkable culture there that I really cannot begin to understand.  I will leave it to all the historians out there that can maybe explain it better to me here on CC. Kusadasi - My friend recently came back from a single masted ship cruise along the Turkish coast and when I mentioned we would be docking in Kusadasi he made a face and said that it was a rundown, dirty port city in turkey.  I disagree and he was never in Kusadasi.   I think he was reading a 20 yr old travel book.  If you YouTube search Kusadasi you will see for yourself it is an area that has made itself over to be inviting to foreign tourists.  We drove through it and found Kusadasi to be clean, surprisingly modern with well manicured greenery and a comfortable sandy beach front with new restaurants and the obligatory Turkish bazaar. You want a bargain...it could be found here.  But be prepared to haggle.  Hang in there.  The Turks are good salesmen, aggressive salesmen and hard bargainers. But once you crack the veneer you open the door to some fantastic bargains.  Don't be afraid to walk away.  You may or may not get your price but around the corner is the same item you wanted originally and you start the bidding all over again.  Make it a game, don't be pressured and you can't go wrong....even if you have to walk away.  Sometimes you win by doing just that. Ephesus - An amazing ancient site with well preserved ruins including the 3 rd largest library in the ancient world outside of Alexandria and Constantinople.  There is plenty to see here.  Before September bring plenty of water with you.  It was 110 degrees when I was there last week and the heat was tough on some people.  My wife and I are both 50+ and we both made it through so I am sure most of you can also.  Just be prepared with water, light clothing, good walking shoes and a towel to wipe your face of perspiration.  Search YouTube for Ephesus and see for yourself the wonders of these ruins.  And don't forget to catch YT's Elton John 2001 concert at the Great Amphitheatre ruins at Ephesus - especially "Honky Cat" with a great 5 minute piano solo. Mykonos/Santorini - I want to lump these two beautiful islands together even though they have 2 very different landscapes.  I am sure you know a great deal about both places already but if you want to reinvigorate your knowledge of both places please do a search on YT again and you will see all you need to know about these two magnificent stops on this cruise.  I will say that there is an internet site, www.Cruisett.com/index.php, that will give you a listing of all the ships that will be in any given port when the Solstice is anchored there and the times of each ship's arrival and departure at that port.  This can be very valuable info for you especially in Santorini which is the only tendered port on this itinerary. The number of ships in any port will affect all the transportation networks of that port and will affect you debarkation times and return plans to the ship.  But a tendered port you need to pay special attention to.  Let me share my experience in Santorini with you.        The Solstice was the only ship in Santorini harbor that day.  NP, right? Wrong.  We left the ship about 9:30 AM, a leisurely time to disembark, and took a public bus to Kamari beach (bring your beach water shoes there - it is very pebbly and the stone are very hot.  The water, although beautiful, is rocky along the bottom by the shore.  At 2 PM we headed to Oia by bus for lunch and arrived at King Neptune's Restaurant overlooking the caldera...a gorgeous view, very good service and fine food.  We lingered knowing there was a 4:05 and 4.35 bus to return us to Fira for the cable car ride back down to the last tender, if need be, at 5:30PM.  Hey...if I miss the 4:05 and get nervous I have the 4:35 bus or just call a taxi, right?  Just like midtown Manhattan!  Well, we miss the 4:05 and I start to worry.  I am 20 minutes away from Fira and a 15 minute walk from the bus station to the cable cars at Fira.  At Oia's bus stop there are no taxi's to be found or radioed for.  One taxi comes at 4:25 and a family grabs it.  We wait. I know there are only about 30 taxis on Mykonos so Santorini is probably nearly as bad.  The bus comes promptly at 4:35 but wait a minute...the driver has to make an unscheduled stop and will be back in 10 minutes.  15 minutes later he arrives and we are on our way at 4:50PM.  The bus is making stops along the way and I am frantic so I place a call to Celebrity Cruises in Florida!  I know some of you are laughing now but what does one do when you are on the bus and your ship is ready to leave!  I want Celebrity to call the ship and tell them of my plight so they can hold the ship (even I am laughing now).  They can't do that.  As far as I know the only person that can do that is the port Captain whose phone number is listed on Celebrity's daily scheduling brochure...EXCEPT FOR SANTORINI!  Are you reading this Celebrity?  As I plead with them on the phone the bus pulls into the Fira bus station at 5:15PM.  Gotta go.  I hang up and jump off the bus with the Mrs.  I have 15 minutes to make the 15 minute walk to the cable car and my wife is reeling from the heat.  She can't walk anymore.  A TAXI!! happens by and we jump in - as if an angel was at the dispatcher's desk.  He leaves us a block from the cable car station as automobiles can't fit down that street.  We jump out and my wife hobbles with my help to the cable car and we fall into it.  Another couple is in the gondola ahead of us are also trying to get back to the ship and they are yelling at the cable operator to start the cable cars down!  It is now 5:25 PM and the cars start to lumber down the side of the caldera.  We all jump out at the bottom and there no tender to be seen!  But there is a small obscure boat with two Solstice crew members waiting for us and 4 other people whom, promptly show up a minute later...it is now 5:35 PM and by walkie talkie it is verified that all 2800 passenger are now accounted for...we being the last 6 to leave on the under size tender used to deliver the dry goods to the ship.  We made it.  If there was one more ship in that harbor and another 2000 people roaming the island I would be writing you this review from a chaotic and sweaty Athens airport trying to arrange an overpriced flight to Naples to catch the ship and me cussing a blue streak!  So please, do NOT make my mistake and give yourself plenty of time...especially if there are other ships in port...tender or not. Naples / Amalfi Coast / Pompeii - Pick ur pleasure.  Sorrento, Capri, Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, Pompeii or Naples.  We did mostly private tours on this cruise with people we befriended on Cruise Critic early in our planning.  Early February we started emailing each other...JSpirit, SandG, IHateClaims and Teechor...they were our core group at the beginning.  I would advise any of you reading this to hook up as early as possible with a group to tour with privately and split the expenses if that is the way you want to tour.  It gets hectic on the boards as time approaches for departure.  In this port we chose to take the ships tour to Sorrento (we made it back to Sorrento as the song promises) and Pompeii, which we missed on our last trip to Italy.  After our hair-raising experience on Santorini a few days before, you can imagine my relief just to lay back and relax knowing a ship's tour will not leave a bus full of passengers behind if it can help it.  Again, Pompeii...very hot...bring water!  Nearly all Naples tours are all day to get to these places of interest.  If you have never been to the towns mentioned above on the Amalfi Coast then that should be a priority unless you prefer the sights of the ill plagued excavated city of Pompeii.  It is quite remarkable to see it for yourself.  I think there may be a ships tour that includes both the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii.  I had friends that did a private tour along the Amalfi Coast and came back by ferry from Sorrento to Naples.  That sounds delightful and they said that they had a great time. I don't know what else to relate so I just want to tell you that I have not met anybody yet that has had a bad experience on this itinerary for the Solstice.  Everybody has had glowing comments on their experiences on the Solstice and its ports of call on this itinerary.  It was a fabulous experience and for first time cruisers as are I and my wife, we are just stunned at the quality of service, wonderful dining experiences and fun activities on the Celebrity Solstice as well the wonderful ports of call and their historical significance.  BTW, there is this little town called ROME that you will happen to leave from and return to.  Be sure to give yourself some time at the front end or back end of your cruise itinerary to enjoy the sights and Italian cuisine of Rome. One quick final anecdote.  I am visiting Rome several years back and the control addict that I am, I have tickets for everywhere (rail, musuems and venues) and reservations for opera and restaurants, in my hand, and all made by myself on the interne for an 18 days backpacking journey with my wife from Lake Cuomo, thru Venice to The Amalfi Coast and much in between.  I have my tickets for the Rome Coliseum one afternoon and as we approach the gates of the massive structure the guards start to close and lock the old venue up!  I am waving my tickets screaming that this can't be.  "Oh yes it be sir", they told me. "Big soccer game today and everybody is going home to watch it on tv, goodbye Sir".  You have got to love the Italians for their passion for life.  Well, it's like the world series of soccer in Italy that day...the national championship game, winner take all....Milan vs Rome.  Rome wins...the city goes crazy and parties all night.  The wife and I have a blast that night partying with the winning side but I missed my chance at visiting the Coliseum.  Now I got to come back again to Rome and I didn't waste my chance this time to visit the Coliseum.  We did a full guided tour.  I thought maybe if I miss it again...no big deal.  But entering and wandering through and around the interior of the Coliseum only affirms the grandeur that once was Rome and western Civilization.  I think it is the single most impressive ancient structure on this entire cruise.  If you can, don't miss visiting the Coliseum. I am not the best proof reader so please excuse any words out of place. Finally I would like to mention my cruise crew again.  Fine cuisine, ancient ruins and ship amenities are fine but the lasting impression and the intangible that always makes the difference to a successful journey are the relationships that you forge along the way.  There would be a definite hole in my entire experience on this cruise if it weren't for the friendships made before, during and after our cruise with our new friends of the "Cruise Crew" mentioned above, all wonderfully thoughtful and generous people, plus those that we came to call part of our "crew" later on....Kevin and Susan, Loretta, Lisa and Dale and their kids, along with SandG's daughter Caity, Joe and Maria and Pam and Sandy.  What an awesome group.  Thanx again to all of you for making this first time cruise experience so memorable for Susan and I.  And for the rest of you waiting your time to depart remember the words of my main cruise man, Sam....plan hard then sit back and relax because it's gonna be a hoot!  Enjoy. Ciao. GeoBill99 and PMSusan99 Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Let me start by saying how great this site is.  It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions!  I  have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were ... Read More
Let me start by saying how great this site is.  It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions!  I  have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were first time cruisers and sailed the Med.on an 11 day cruise on July 6th. What a Beautiful Ship!  Everyone that we talked to that has cruised in the past told us this was their favorite ship and although I have no other cruising experience I have got to believe this is true.  It is very clean and modern and although It was completely booked you never felt crowded.We are a couple in our late 30's-40 and we traveled with our 11 yr. old son. One thing that I had a difficult time finding on this site were reviews that matched our age group, especially reviews from people traveling with children.  I was nervous that my son would not have many other kids to interact with but no need to worry.  There were many kids on the boat (One parent said 500, I am sure during the school year this number drops.) There were kids of all ages on the boat and my son had a wonderful time.  They have a great kids program with organized daily activities that my son enjoyed participating in on sea days. Scavenger hunts, art projects, bingo, video games, foosh ball, etc.   (They have organized activities daily but he did not participate on port days.)  There are so many things to do on the ship! There is something for every age.  We enjoyed the pool,(on sea days you do need to be there early for chairs...they go FAST) health club, and the glass show.  Try to get to at least one glass show, I thought it was so relaxing to watch...the girls are so talented and do such a nice job describing the art of glass blowing.  We thought the food was good.  We loved the crepe place (bistro on five) worth the $5.00 charge and we also loved Silk Harvest.  This was the only specialty restaraunt we ate at and were very glad we did.  The food and service were great!  We went to three shows on the cruise and enjoyed each one.  They do a great job with the shows, there is a woman who impersonates other singers that we really enjoyed...try not to miss her...very funny and talented!PORTSThis is the portion of cruise reviews that I was always most interested so I will try to be detailed and pass on useful information!Civitavechia:  We arrived at 12:00 and got right on the ship.  Took a tour and had lunch.  We stayed in Rome two days prior at the Caesar house.  Nice accomadations close to the Colloseum but a bit expessive.  We stayed at the hotel Canada Best Western two days after the cruise and this was very nice too but much less money.  We met three other couples at our hotel who were also going on the cruise.  We shared a van to the ship at a cost of 50e per couple, arranged by the hotel.Santoroni: I got up early and went down to get tender tickets.(7:30a.m.) just a few other people were down there but within half an hour people were lining up quickly, we were able to get off at 2:00. What a  Beautiful island!  We rented a car on our own and were so happy we did.  We took the cable car into Fira and rented a car from Motor Inn.  The man who helped us was so nice and gave us a map and suggestions on beaches. We spent a few hours at a beautiful beach enjoying the perfect water and black lava rock beach (our 1st)  the water is clear and so blue, it was so peaceful.  We the drove to Oia...do not miss this area...it is gorgeous!  A good place for a nice walk, cute shops and restaraunts and great picture taking.  We drove back to Fira, dropped off the car and got in the line for the cable car (allow plenty of time for this.)  A great peaceful day.Mykonos: Another beautiful island and another rental car!  Once again we were so happy we rented a car.  We took the bus transfer into town and tried to find the car rental place, we ended up taking a taxi to the rental place and did not know that they (the car rental place)  would have had a car waiting for us at the port.  If you think you want to rent a car book it in advance and have it waiting.  It will save you time and the expense of not needing the bus transfer.  We rented a jeep from Kosmos.  The man who helped us was fantastic, very accomadating with suggestions and when we dropped off the jeep they drove us to the port so we did not need to use the bus transfer.  We walked around Mykonos and then drove down some narrow winding roads to Super Paradise! WOW!  This place is great...I could spend a few days there.  Beach chairs/umbrellas for rent with an outdoor restaraunt/bar.  We loved this beach!  We wished we had started for the beach earlier and spent more time here.Istanbul:  What a unique city.  We decided to do this on our own and had no problems.  The only time we needed Lira was for subway tokens, so be prepared with a bit of Lira before you purchase tokens, we just got a bit of money at the cash machine in the subway and then purchase our tokens.  Using the subway was not difficult at all, a bit crowded at 7:00p.m. (this is there rush hr.) otherwise not an issue.  We went to the Topkapi Palace and also purchased tickets for the Harem rooms.  I really enjoyed the tour of the Harem rooms.  (On a side note, there is a vendor who sells icecream a little walk before you get into the Topkapi Palace.  The icecream there is made with a product that allows it to stretch a bit and when you get a cone he does a little show..flips the cones, etc. my son loved this.) We went to the Grand Bazaar after the palace and although I am glad we saw it, it was way to much for me.  You get approached constantly asking "Where are you from?" to start a conversation and everyone wants to sell you there rugs, jewelry, etc. not at all relaxing.  We planned to eat in Istanbul for dinner but we were all so tired we went back to the ship and had dinner on the boat.  The next morning we took the Subway back to Haghia Sophia (gorgeous) and then went to the Spice Bazaar.  This was much more enjoyable.  People aren't as aggressive and we were able to purchase a few souveneirs.Ephesus:  We loved our day in Ephesus! This port is very nice and clean and has nice shopping (including a starbucks) right at the dock.  We arranged a private tour with Ekol travel.  A very sweet girl named Phylis (hope I spelled her name right) was waiting for us with our last name on a sign.  I knew it was going to be a great tour when I saw her smiling face and her bright red hair...she was great and gave us so much insight into the lives of people from the area. There was a driver who took us in a van while Phylis would give us history/information on the way to our tours.  We were so happy to have this private tour...many times you see large numbers of people following someone with a paddle.  I am not saying that these aren't good tours too but for the same cost you can do your own private tour and have someone answer all your questions and stop when you want to look a bit longer, etc.  I think it is a great way to see a port and learn more about the people who live there. We went to the ruins of Ephesus and toured the terrace houses.  This is a must!  This was an amazing tour.  We never went to Mary's house but many people on the ship said the same thing about that.  We drove to a little village called Sirince where local women made products and sell them, along with other vendors, on the streets.  We ate lunch there and did a bit of shopping, this was a very enjoyable stop.  On the way back to the ship Phylis gave my husband the name of a place to have a Turkish Bath. My son and I did some shopping in the port while my husband had his turkish bath..he was glad he tried it.  Athens: This is another port that we did on our own.  We used the subway system (which was the most confusing public transportation we used...it isn't impossible but you make 3 transfers to get to the Acropolis) We took a taxi back which cost 8e (on the way out of the port they wanted 25e, taxi drivers are hoping to pick people up at a higher cost...ask before you get in....once you are away from the port it is much cheaper.) We walked around the Acropolis, went into the beautiful new museum and walked around the Plaka...all this is in easy walkable distance of one another.Naples:  We booked a private tour with AP tours.  We had another wonderful day with our driver/tour guide Victorio.  He was very charming and sweet and always asked if we wanted more time for sights or if we wanted to stop to take a picture, etc. On the drive he would give us lots of information on the people from the area, tourism, the cost of living in the area, he was very easy to talk to and we enjoyed his company.  We started our tour with Pompeii. Victorio dropped us off and told us he would be waiting.we decided that 2 hrs. would be sufficient. (There is absolutely no way to see all the ruins in 2 hrs. but we also knew we wanted to see the Amalfi Coast and honestly we were a bit "ruined out".  We got to see about 1/3 of the ruins...it is a large area...and we were fine with that. Some people may want to make an entire day of this and then you would want to look into touring just Pompeii.)  We then took off on a lovely drive to Positano...what a beautiful little town on the cliffs of the Amalfi coast. The Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful and I am so glad we saw it.  We did a bit of shopping and walking around and then we drove to the top of a cliff and ate at a fantatic Italian restaraunt called La Tagliata...if you go bring your appetite. They keep bringing food and it is all delicious!  After lunch we drove to Sorento and walked around the town a bit...also a beautiful area.  Victorio then drove us to the Hydrofoil in Sorento and we took it back to the Ship.  A Super day!  Another option to this...our table mates had seen Pompeii so they weren't doing a tour.  They took the Hydrofoil from Naples to Capri and had a wonderful relaxing day.  It would be impossible to do all these things so it is important to decide what is most important and plan from there.  Maybe we will be lucky enough to visit Capri at another time!No matter what you choose to do during your port days you will have a great time.  This is a beautiful Cruise and I hope your trip is as enjoyable experience...it is a trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We have just returned from a really great cruise on the Solstice and the overall experience was very good. We are quite experienced cruisers and have travelled on P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Each cruise ... Read More
We have just returned from a really great cruise on the Solstice and the overall experience was very good. We are quite experienced cruisers and have travelled on P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Each cruise line has its own individual 'flavor'. This year our cruise was from Rome so we decided to stay 2 days in Civitavecchia. I chose the Hotel Miramare and was not disappointed. It was situated in a great location right on the sea front and just steps away from some lovely restaurants and the market. We had a suite as there is my husband and I and our teenage son. The rooms were simple and clean and the walk to the port even with suitcases was not to strenuous. We boarded the Solstice at lunchtime. Its a lovely ship with great amenities including a fabulous gym. Our son really enjoyed the teen area and hanging out with new friends. We had made friends with some people on our Celebrity Connections thread and arranged to meet them - we had a wonderful time together and dined with them most nights. The cabin was, we feel, the best designed one we have had. Even with the pullman bed out it was easy to walk round and was perfectly spacious for all three of us. The bathroom had been ingeniously designed and had loads of storage space and the cabin storage was fine too. The bars we used were great of particular note was the Martini Bar with its great performing barmen and also the bar outside the Murano restaurant which had a lovely atmosphere. We dined in the Murano restaurant one night and were extremely impressed. Although there is an additional cover charge for this it is well worth it, the food was excellent (my lobster was out of this world!) but my advice is don't be tempted to fill up on bread before hand because the portions are very generous The food in the main dining room was a little disappointing and tended to be on the luke warm side at times, however, we made a comment to the Maitre D' about this and the service after that was much better, however, I would say the quality of the food was not quite up to the standards we have come to expect from Celebrity. We used the Oceanview Cafe for lunch and breakfast and were very impressed with the facilities and quality/choice of food here. We did play croquet on the lawn area and watched the hot glass show, both very enjoyable. Also the shows put on by the Celebrity theatre were very good particularly the one with the trapeze artists. There was also a late night comedian in the Celebrity Central venue and he was really funny. One thing we did miss was and outside deck party with a buffet. They did put on a deck party but there was no food and it just seemed to lack the fun that we had had on previous Celebrity cruises. Embarkation and Disembarkation was stress free. All in all we had a lovely cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
My daughter and I did just spend a very enjoyable 10 nights on Solstice to start June. a fine cruise, although not everything was seamless, of course. For example, I can't understand why Celebrity had me fill out all those online ... Read More
My daughter and I did just spend a very enjoyable 10 nights on Solstice to start June. a fine cruise, although not everything was seamless, of course. For example, I can't understand why Celebrity had me fill out all those online forms (for credit card usage, for allowing my daughter to drink, etc.) and then turned around and made me fill them all out again when we checked in. Just a minor irritant, but it seemed so avoidable unless they had lost their online data (which they then could have admitted).I can say overall I was very impressed with the ship and its crew. The public spaces may have been less in the "I'm aboard a ship" style, but they were gorgeous. The stateroom was beautiful plenty large enough, designed to make the most of the space. My first reaction was to immediately unpack all our bags into the closet and drawers, since ten nights at sea spelled "home" to me, unlike the vast majority of my land vacations. This is certainly the feeling the ship would like to inspire, as we were always welcomed back after a long, hot day of excursions with a cold drink, an iced towel and, "Welcome home!" I must say, it worked for me, as I did feel like I had come home when I returned to the ship.More specific critiques. I have little but praise for our room steward. Top notch. We did get a couple unexpected entries into the room while there, one when we probably would have been expected to be elsewhere, one when the "Do Not Disturb" sign was very much in place (although this wasn't our normal steward). The whole logistics involved in taking care of all those staterooms must be a science in itself. The same must be said for dining. The Grand Epernay is obviously an example of scientifically controlled mayhem—two shifts of dining on two different floors, yet there was never a feeling of "crowd control" except the first night when everyone needed to find their seat assignments. Dining was one of the few places where you realized that their were enough passengers onboard to populate a fair-sized town, but approaching our table was always a matter of avoiding the rapidly-scurrying wait staff, not being caught in a queue of fellow travelers. Because of the marvelous job with crowd flow, it is a testament to their work that the primary criticism of the dining experience has been somewhat less-than-hot entrEes. Yes, I agree, I would very much prefer not having to send food back for reheating, but I wasn't aghast. (I think it was more telling the first night when the crème brûlEe really should have just been called custard, since they obviously didn't have the time to melt the sugar on top of what could be a thousand or so identical desserts.) I must say, unlike some other reviews, we had the most wonderful wait staff, with personable, attentive servers who attended to the table promptly and never seemed overly delayed in the delivery of the next course. The one more serious issue. As a first timer, I did go to Customer Relations several times with questions. Early on when returning my Disembarkation Questionnaire, I was told they had been informed that there would be no train service from Civitavecchia when we returned after the cruise. And no taxis in town (well, maybe five or six). But we can sell you very high-priced city transfers, so get it quickly so you will be able to return to Rome. OK, I grumbled and paid up. Later at dinner, our dinner companions, who also planned to go by train, had no knowledge of this rather important situation and cast doubt on its veracity. So off the Customer Relations again—where they told me that everyone had either been personally informed, or they had a message waiting for them in their room. Oh, OK. The next evening? Our companions had still heard nothing, which really concerned me, so we started plotting our own shared ride. When I approached Customer Relations again with this news, they admitted they'd gotten it wrong and that the trains would run as usual. Unfortunately I have the feeling I wouldn't have been told this, but would have been allowed to take the expensive, inconvenient transfer instead. And so I cancelled my transfers. Or so I was told, until I returned to Customer Relations with a later bill where the charges still remained. This time they told me I needed to bring in my purchase paperwork to cancel the order—but again, I would not have been told this. I wasn't too happy about it this time, which prompted the attendant to make a joke about getting the previous person fired, which I thought REALLY hit a wrong note. So long story short: Celebrity, you need to work seriously on communications, especially when it involves shifting information about something of rather vital importance.Other admittedly nit-picking items. 1) The library was a very nice place to read, but what thrift store did they visit to stock the shelves? I'm not asking for a comprehensive library, but having old encyclopedia year books and the third books in trilogies without the first two (yes, I checked on the first day) made it appear the library was just a pretty prop. It does seem that, if you are going to do it, you want to do it right. 2) About the same with the game room: a nice space, but after the first day all the playing cards were gone as well as any popular board games—my daughter wanted Scrabble so I guess we were supposed to grab it that first night, as it never reappeared again—so maybe someone should be assigned to keep the room stocked? 3) The TV interactive information system for Ship Location was worthless. Why show GPS location on a stylized map with an unlabeled single line designating a coastline? I was looking forward to keeping track of our course, knowing what islands we were passing, essentially visualizing where we were in the Mediterranean. I had to track down the Atlas in the library to make a guess. How about a basic contract with Google Maps? Favorites. I'll only bring up the spaces we used most. Top location? The Solarium, with a nice pool and jacuzzi, a fountain and quiet music. I would have liked the cruise to go longer just to lounge here. Best lounge? The Sky Observation Lounge, especially when the music didn't get too loud. Alternate dining? We only tried the Bistro on Five, which did make very good crepes, so I would recommend it. We also ate plenty in the Oceanview Cafe, which had very satisfying buffet food (and gave us the ice cream and pizza we needed after excursions as a snack before dinner!). And I have to make a plug for the Fortunes Casino, since I did win a fair amount—some of the crew were a bit inexperienced at the craps table so you had to watch your payoffs, but I didn't come expecting Vegas.OK, enough said. I feel like my negatives stand out more than my positives, but in fact they were the small details in the midst of a most pleasant experience. I will want to do this again, perhaps with an itinerary that is not so port-of-call heavy so I can relax in the Solarium more often ... Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This was my 13th cruise ship so I'd say I'm a veteran cruiser now. My wife and I started cruising with Carnival first and then branched off to try Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and finally decided to stick with Royal ... Read More
This was my 13th cruise ship so I'd say I'm a veteran cruiser now. My wife and I started cruising with Carnival first and then branched off to try Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and finally decided to stick with Royal Caribbean for the majority of our cruises until trying this new Celebrity ship. We're glad we did and now we're big fans! The Celebrity Solstice is an amazing ship and I'd have to rate it as well above any we've tried before. I typically pick either very large (over 100K ton) or very new ships and this one fit both bills. I'm glad they're building more Solstice-class because I'll be looking to cruise on one of her sister vessels in coming years. It's a very clean, bright, and airy ship. The use of glass throughout, the different types of seating (hammocks?!) on the decks, the lawn, and just the general design made it feel very open, inviting, modern (not too trendy) and relaxing. The staff was friendly and I can't say enough about the food - excellent! We decided to try their new Aqua Class staterooms (AQ). Essentially, it's a balcony room but you get some added perks to make your experience feel a bit higher-class (it worked too). In our stateroom when we arrived at the ship there was a bottle of Champagne on ice, fresh fruit and bottles of water (not sure if these were for AQ passengers only?). Each day our stateroom was restocked with a couple more bottles of water which my wife and I took with us on excursions each day. There had nice robes and hemp slippers that my size 12 feet had no chance of fitting (must be European sized?!). We were also given a gift during the cruise - a Celebrity shopping bag. The website mentioned the Hansgrohe shower head but other than the novelty of it, we played with it once and then turned off the 4 body-jets and just used it like any other shower. One of the exclusive perks for AQ class passengers was that you eat in a smaller, quaint restaurant called "Blu". The restaurant is next door to two extra-cost specialty restaurants. Our table was near the concierge's desk and we saw several people request entry and even offer to pay an extra fee but they were all politely turned away. The ship is pretty serious about maintaining the exclusivity of the restaurant. As noted earlier I think I'm a seasoned cruiser and one factor was usually consistent - I've typically gained anywhere from 7-10 lbs. I'm happy to report that this was the very first cruise I've ever taken where I didn't gain any weight! The gourmet portions were right-sized (not served on a platter) and even though it was available (and often encouraged) I didn't order second (or third) servings of any entrEes as I've done in the past and I never went hungry. With the healthy, lean foods, exercising in their great gym, and the active excursions, it all added up to a net gain of zero pounds - THAT was amazing to me! I wasn't starving myself or even trying to do anything special (except not eat myself into a coma) and I came out the same way I went in. In addition to the restaurant, there was a special glass-enclosed Spa relaxation lounge at the front of the ship available to AQ passengers. There was always soft meditation music, fresh ice water w/ fruit, and it's well off the beaten path. The times my wife and I went in there I only saw one other person so it truly was a relaxing location for those times when you wanted to avoid the masses. We (and lots onboard) loved the Martini Bar. There is also a nightclub onboard but it seemed to attract the younger 18+ crowd on our cruise and the karaoke lounge was a hit-or-miss. The 35-55 crowd congregated at the Martini Bar. We met a lot of interesting people but thanks to the "sampler" I kept ordering I don't quite remember any of them ;-) The drinks were good but the watching the skilled bartenders was just as much fun (ever seen Tom Cruise in the movie "Cocktail"?). So if you ever get a chance to sail the Celebrity Solstice or the Equinox then you've got to give it a shot - they're truly beautiful, unique ships. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My husband and I were traveling with my 2 older sisters.  We have been on many cruises, but this was the first time that we had sailed with Celebrity and for the most part we were extremely pleased with the experience.   The Solstice ... Read More
My husband and I were traveling with my 2 older sisters.  We have been on many cruises, but this was the first time that we had sailed with Celebrity and for the most part we were extremely pleased with the experience.   The Solstice was a new ship that had only been out a couple of times before our cruise, so it still had the sparkle that a lot of the older ships seem to lose after being in service for a while.  We got to Rome a couple of days before we were scheduled to depart and stayed at the Eurostars International Palace in Rome.  We were pleased with the hotel.  The rooms were pretty good size for a European Hotel and it was central to most of the sites we wanted to see, with convenient transportation to everything else.We checked out of the hotel in the morning and got to Civitavecchia around noon.  We were able to check in.  The process went very smoothly.  There were 10-15 people checking the passengers in, so there was almost no wait time.  They said that the rooms would not be ready until 1:30pm so we went to lunch.  As you walked into the Lido Buffet, there was a crewmember standing there with hand sanitizer, making sure everyone used it before they went in to eat. (This was consistent through the whole trip at all of their restaurants).  We really appreciated this since we were cruising just after the swine flu "epidemic" began.  It was the first time that we have been on a cruise that one of us didn't come back with a cold.   We did not book any excursions through the Celebrity Solstice.  We booked all private tours  just for the 4 of us before we left.   They were not only cheaper than the ones Celebrity offered, they were more flexible and built the tour according to how much time we wanted to spend at a site. On a couple of the tours, we actually changed parts of the itinerary as we went along. Things we liked about the cruise:The food was really good most of the time.  The only time we had issues with it was once or twice at night in the Oceanview Cafe.  They didn't have a lot of variety and sometimes it was cold. I think they wanted to encourage you to go to the dining room.  The food in the dining room was excellent.  We never had a bad meal there. The cabin attendants were awesome.  They always seemed to be on duty.  I don't know when they slept but they seemed to be available to us 24/7.  The waiters were also incredible.  They seemed to anticipate your every need.  The acupuncturist, Grace was very knowledgeable and was worth every penny I spent.  In general the whole staff was very good. The ship itself was beautiful and very clean.  It was easy to find your way around on the ship, which says a lot since I tend to get lost easily on cruise ships.  If you did get turned around, all of the crew were very knowledgeable and helpful in directing you to the right area. Things we didn't like:The ATM machines ran out of money about 3-4 days before the end of the cruise.  That in itself was bad enough but the front desk kept telling people that it was unable to get the signal when they were close to shore.  Of course after 2 days when it still didn't work we realized it was more than the signal.  One of the front desk crew finally told us that it was out of money and there was no way to fill it until the end of the cruise.  Unfortunately the others were still telling people that it was the signal until the day we disembarked.  They only had 2 ATM's on board for 3800 people. The meal times - They were 6:15 and 8:45.  The first one was too early, the last one too late.  We had the later time but switched half way through the cruise.  If you had the late dining, the show didn't start until 11pm  which was hard if you were going out the early the next day (10pm would have been fine).  Their shows were not attended well at all and I think part of it was their weird dinner times.  Everyone complained about that. The photographers were not as active as some of the cruises we have been on.  In fact we didn't even know that they were taking pictures at the dinner tables until several days in the cruise. Even on formal night, they still didn't take pictures of everyone in the dining room. They just seemed to do one side of the room and then left.  We are used to them being much more involved with the guests activities. Even though there were a few minor annoyances, It was a really good cruise, probably one of the best we have been on. We would definitely sail again on the Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We have just returned from a family vacation on the Celebrity Solstice and we are all still talking to each other! The trip consisted of my husband and I, two teenagers and my In-law's. The crew on the ship could not have been more ... Read More
We have just returned from a family vacation on the Celebrity Solstice and we are all still talking to each other! The trip consisted of my husband and I, two teenagers and my In-law's. The crew on the ship could not have been more friendly. They always had a smile on their face and genuinely willing to help you with anything. First the check in was the most efficient check in process we have ever had on a cruise. No problems at all and no waiting in line. My husband and I were in an Aqua Class cabin (1523). Our room was very spacious, lots of useable storage space. We had 2 extra large suitcases and they both fit under the bed along with another carry on size suitcase. The bathroom was a nice size. Our veranda had two chairs with foot rest and a table. We had coffee there every morning. Our room was toward the front. We only had movement a couple times during the cruise but the water was a little rough and even down on the 4th and 5th floors towards the middle it was moving a little. Not enough movement for motion sickness unless you are really sensitive. Our cabin steward was Marco and I don't know how he did it but our room was cleaned every time we left! Our teenagers had an inside cabin on the same floor (1532). We thought this room would be across from us but the door to it is actually on the other side of the hall. It was ok for us because our children are 15 and 17 but if you had smaller children this would not work. I did not notice much difference in size of the room or the bathroom. It was just missing the veranda and some of the amenities were a little better in our Aquaclass room. I did enjoy having a lighted make-up mirror and hair dryer that was almost full size. The jetted shower in AQ class was nice too after a long day of sightseeing. But, all the rooms had the necessary toiletries (shampoo, conditioner,lotion, cotton balls, q-tips) and hairdryers. My in-law's had a regular balcony room (7247). Their balcony was a little bigger because it was located on the part of the ship that jogs out a little. Very private though no one else could see onto the balcony. The lifeboats were below them but did not obstruct their view in any way. Because we were in AQ class we were supposed to eat in Blu every night. We did the first night but then got moved to the main dining room so we could be with our family. That was bitter sweet! The food in Blu was much better than the dining room. We felt it was more important to be with our family than to eat well. The dining room was probably our biggest disappointment. The food was fine just not as good as other cruise ships we have been on. The staff was great but the food was a little lacking. The food at the Oceanview Cafe was better than the food in the dining room. In talking to others on board the food at Blu was the best. The coffee and tea onboard was wonderful. Wine prices were reasonable. We spent a lot of time in the Cellar. Great wine bar! Also, don't miss the ice bar for some great martini's.  We did not do a tour of Santorini or Mykonos. We spent the day just walking around and shopping. I would suggest the cable car vs the donkey in Santorini! Also, don't miss the sunset on Santorini. It is most beautiful. We did private tours in Istanbul and Ephesus. We used Ekol travel. Nur with Ekol was great to work with and very professional. Our tour guide in Istanbul was Ezel. She was absolutely fantastic. She was right there waiting for us as we left the gangway. Not only did we get a great 2 day tour with Ezel she arranged for us to have dinner in Istanbul the night the ship was docked there. That turned out to be the most fun night on our cruise. Our reservation was at the Kalamar Restaurant. The restaurant  picked us up at the port and took us to the fish market district. We had a fantastic dinner. The food was excellent. I recommend the Salt Encrusted Sea Bass. We even had belly dancers come around to our table. It seemed to be an area that the locals gather after work. A lot of fun and a beautiful area. When we were done the restaurant took us back to the ship. The shuttle to and from the restaurant was free but we of course gave them a good tip. Thank you Ezel. Our tour in Ephesus was also through Ekol. Our tour guide was Sky. She must be the most patient person ever and very fun! When you do the tours in Ephesus make sure you see the Terrace Houses. They were just opened to the public in the last 2 years and they are unbelievable. We also went rug shopping and Sky never made us feel rushed. She took us to two different places. We fell in love with a rug from Ege Hali. We have been to Istanbul and Ephesus before and we bought a silk rug back in 2000 in Ephesus. So we are familiar with several different carpet venues. The people at Ege Hali were really genuine and trustworthy. I have their contact info if anyone would like to have it. My in-laws did a ship tour of Athens. They were not impressed with the Athens tour. They couldn't hear the tour guide, the guide didn't explain what they were seeing very well and they got separated from the group due to the caos around the Acropolis. However we all did a tour of Sorrento and Pompeii with the ship and it was great. It all depends on the tour guide you have. I'm not sure who the ship used for the tour guide in Athens but they used Aloschi Brothers for the Sorrento and Pompeii tour and our guide, Hakim was great. He offered great stories and was very funny. Loved the tour of the farm in Sorrento where they make mozzarella and lemoncello. When you are getting back on the ship after being on shore the crew is there with cold towels to wipe your face and hands off, cold water or juice to drink and hand sanitizer. It's the small things!! Back to the ship....we were not fans of the lawn club. Personally I think they should use that space for more chairs to lay out in and another pool area. The show on the last evening was really good, similar to Cirque du Soleil. It would have been nice to have more shows like that on the ship. Our teenagers stayed busy at the X club and playing basketball. They both meet some other kids their age and hung out at night and days at sea. The pools shut down at 8 which I think is early especially if the kids want to swim but I think most cruise ships do this for safety reasons. The gym is nice. We only used it 3 times but good space and machines. My husband and I missed the champagne brunch but my mother in law said it was magnificent. We had a great time on the Solstice. It is beautiful and designed well. We will definitely sail with Celebrity again. I think our next one might be on Azamara without the kids though!  Read Less
Sail Date June 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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