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134 Celebrity Solstice Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

If you want to take a cruise, weather it's your first or one of many I can honestly say Celebrity Solstice is a good choice for so many reasons. She is a beautiful ship. Her crew could not do enough for us. Everyone on board, staff, ... Read More
If you want to take a cruise, weather it's your first or one of many I can honestly say Celebrity Solstice is a good choice for so many reasons. She is a beautiful ship. Her crew could not do enough for us. Everyone on board, staff, crew, dancers, waiters, wine steward, room steward - they all made us feel special and welcomed. We sailed from Civitavecchia after staying in Rome for 3 days, I recommend you do the same - you have plenty of time that way to "see Rome." Each port was a lesson in history, we used private tours for most of the ports that we arranged with other Cruise Critic passengers on our thread. The one tour we took through the cruise line, in Turkey, was very nice as well. We saw Athens at dawn on the Acropolis, we bought beautiful earrings for me in Mykonos, we ate at a seaside restaurant in Lindos/Rhodes, our best meal ever in our lifetime was on a cliff side above Positano on the Amalfi Coast. The city of Pompeii was so gripping, to know those people died where they stood in all that ash - and yet, Frank Sinatra sang in one of the ampitheaters there 30 years ago! Santorini Greece took my breath away - take your time and bring your cameras - eat some good Greek food - buy candy and tea there. Sicily was just amazing, we climbed the steepest hills by bus and walked in the beautiful town of Taormina - buy a cannoli there - the delightful Italian pastry was first made here. My husband still talks about how delicious it was! We loved the ship. The martini bar is fun, its base is all frosted so you sit on your stool with you glass on this frozen bar. The bartenders are magic with the tricks and special drinks they make - and so much fun to watch. The ship is elegant. The Solstice will remain in your heart for a very long time. We miss the ship and the wonderful people we met on board. I/we recommend the Solstice to anyone that wants an exciting and beautiful cruise experience. I hope you go! Soon! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Embarcation was efficient and well planed. Embarkation went very well. The staterooms were very pleasant and balcony of adequate size. But the soundproofing between the rooms was very bad indeed. Entertainment not as good as ... Read More
Embarcation was efficient and well planed. Embarkation went very well. The staterooms were very pleasant and balcony of adequate size. But the soundproofing between the rooms was very bad indeed. Entertainment not as good as the RCI ships. Breakfast always luke warm I asked why is the food always only warm, reply from one of the supervisors...if the heat is turned up the food will dry out and have to be thrown away!! MDR..Fantastic table of 8, but we all felt the food could be much improved - not 5*. Again only warm Food. Tables are to close together compaired with RCI. And staff are looking after to many tables. More staff needed to raise standards. Verdict; The service and food are not in any way 5* standard, more a high 3*. And is not worth the extra you are prepared to pay for a higher class of service. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Our Solstice experience was perhaps a bit different than indicated in the reviews of "homesweethome" and "SeattleKroozer", as follows: We are seniors from California, USA, who sailed the Solstice 10/9/09 on the ... Read More
Our Solstice experience was perhaps a bit different than indicated in the reviews of "homesweethome" and "SeattleKroozer", as follows: We are seniors from California, USA, who sailed the Solstice 10/9/09 on the Eastern Mediterranean itinerary, spending 4 days in Rome pre-cruise thus fully relaxed. This was my first trip to Europe, not so for my lady. We opted for transfer from our hotel directly to the port with two (new) friends we discovered on Cruise Critic via the Roll Call. With Rome Cabs (highly recommended) the cost was one half the total of 150 Euro and provided relaxing door-to-door service, luggage handling and zero walking, viewed by us as a great value. (Philosophically, in this case, I define "great value" as not having to schlep luggage to the Rome Termini, on to the train, off the train at Civitavecchia, up and down the stairs there and then to the port entrance to hopefully find a bus to the ship all to save about 40 Euro total... and a potential heart attack!) Arriving at the ship at 12:30 our luggage was accommodated and we proceeded to check-in where there was zero queue. We boarded the ship, received a glass of bubbly, were ushered to a waiting elevator and then selected lunch before 12:45. Given 2,850 people booked on this cruise we found that remarkable and a stellar start to our Solstice experience. Shortly after lunch our cabin (6169) was ready on Continental Deck 6. Though listed as obstructed, Class 2C, the balcony is above the lifeboat which only affected the view straight down, a non-issue. Being located between the elevators made access either way convenient and only a deck above the smoking deck made my walk for that habit a short one. We found the cabin spacious for our needs with plenty of storage space, room for our luggage under the bed, the best bathroom yet, wonderful shower, very quiet and complete with other amenities as promised. The bed was heaven! Having designed interior spaces I found this design to be excellent save for one minor gripe. The closet at the end of the couch leaves little room for maneuvering, thus is clumsy to use. We booked early (6:15) seating in the Main Dining Room (MDR) and found that time perfect. We were seated with a terrific couple from Florida (within our age bracket and with similar interests) at a quiet rectangular table next to a window on Deck 4. Adjoining our table were two more couples also of similar age. We all became fast friends. The seating area was spacious, not at all crowded as others have observed. Our servers, Stan Lopuchov and Alan Peros, were beyond skilled and very personable. There was never a need to ask for anything. Every course was preceded with a rearrangement of the proper flatware, a minor point perhaps but it was that good. Juris provided excellent wine service, and wine not consumed was corked and found on the table as we arrived the next night. The cocktail server provided service in a like manner. Yes, I know the meaning of long-winded, but this is worth saying. Almost every night Alan (from Croatia) walked my lady out of the dining room on his arm. It was classy, professional and gentlemanly; adding further to our Solstice experience. The nightly menus provided plenty of options (we are a bit picky), the food was served promptly and always warm or cold as appropriate. Were all of the meals spectacular? No. There were one or two meals rated average at best, with the rest very good to excellent. That is a rating of 36 meals for the four of us. The other four meals were consumed at Murano with our same dinner companions, worth the price and top notch in every respect. Worthy of mention is Bistro on 5, a good value, tried only once for lunch. The Oceanview Cafe (buffet) was excellent in our view, though we only eat a common breakfast and salads for lunch, thus less than picky in this case. We found the service there adequate, not spectacular, and actually enjoyed not having trays (Trays defining a "buffet" perhaps? A common negative comment it seems). We did not try other dining opportunities as the MDR, buffet and those mentioned fully served our needs. The service referenced above and that found throughout the entire ship deserves mention. We found all staff to be professional and very friendly. Another example in Cafe al Bacio was having an afternoon drink and upon returning the following afternoon being greeted with: "Good to see you again. Will you be having the same beverage?" (and she did remember) Only through top-down excellence in management does that occur, thus I complemented management for their effort more than once. Sure, they almost seemed surprised, but that is my nature. Give credit when due, you reap what you sow, etc. It all pays dividends. To be very brief, the entertainment was just fine (some excellent!) depending on your taste, the grass is just peachy if you like it, the Martini Bar is a complete giggle, Sarah (from Wales) gives a great man's haircut if needed, we don't do gym workouts, the internet connection works okay (if you must!) and so on. It's all good. Enjoy what you want and let the rest go. A minor gripe was the lack of ballroom dancing opportunities. When offered in the Sky Lounge it was excellent but not offered to the extent found on our last HAL cruise in June. Perception or truth? Not sure. Miscellanea: We found the two days at sea to be a welcome respite, both of which are formal nights, thus not having a rush for the gals to get gorgeous. Those who served us on a regular basis (Cabin and MDR attendants) easily earned generous tips above the fixed amounts. In these times of significant competition we found Celebrity and the Solstice up to the game. Disembarkation was a breeze. We arranged Celebrity bus transfer to FCO for an 11:20 AM flight to Washington, DC. Leaving the ship at 6:30, preceded by breakfast, allowed plenty of time and the process at FCO was benign. The Italians treated us well. Arriving late in Washington from Rome, having half of the customs stations closed, being treated like cattle in what was a veritable zoo, missing our connection to LAX and all other flights that night, thus having to spend the night in DC is another story. Hundreds of people, citizens or not, suffered the same. I was actually a tad embarrassed by the process on behalf of our country. Welcome to America it was not... Notwithstanding the end game; the overall cruise experience on the Solstice simply exceeded our every expectation. Isn't that fun to say? I can't guarantee our luck with dinner companions, or the table location or the service we received but this ship deserves your serious consideration. Where they put 2,850 people onboard is beyond me, but they were never in our face. Remarkable! Ports Visited: Rome, Italy, 10/5/09 to 10/9/09 As stated, we spent 4 days in Rome pre-cruise, thus not an excursion per se. I found the city's pace and traffic intolerable after those 4 days. It all drove me crazy and diminished my pleasure understanding the incredible history and enjoyment of remarkable art and architecture. An excursion from the ship may correctly be viewed differently. Okay, I am an old (grumpy?) guy from a quiet California beach town. History, art and architecture are good, chaos is not. I will leave it at that! Messina, Sicily, 10/10/09 Through Celebrity we booked the Taormina excursion. A female guide provided excellent information with considerable wit. Well organized and fairly priced at 57 USD each. We lunched at Billy & Billy in the first square (hungry!). Don't expect great English, just point at what you want and enjoy an excellent Greek salad and a cold beer at very modest prices. An adequate WC is available. The village is most interesting, worth the time, and don't miss the local pottery. Not due to the recent weather and horrid mud slides (God bless them) we found the route through Messina from the ship to be filthy. Sorry, but true. The local leadership needs to get those streets cleaned up, at least along the tour bus routes. (My old Chamber of Commerce roots are showing here) Mykonos, Greece, 10/12/09 Ah, Mykonos! The tender ashore was a breeze. As said before, queues were nearly non-existent. How Celebrity does that remains remarkable. We had no excursion, electing to walk about with our dinner companions mentioned previously. The history is worth investigating, the people beyond friendly, English is spoken freely, it is CLEAN, it is beautiful, and the shops are fabulous. One caveat, bring money! Having said that, I did manage to find a nice locally-made necklace for my lady at the neatest shop I have ever seen! WC's are plentiful. On the curious side is that the beaches are claimed to be spectacular. The water was, no doubt. The beaches we saw are darker course sand or gravel unlike where I live. Still, Mykonos was wonderful. Athens, Greece, 10/13/09 We canceled a Celebrity excursion to do a private all-day tour with our new Cruise Critic friends with Athens Cabs for 230 Euro, total price for four, plus 20 more for extending the day. Paul of Athens Cabs arranged to have Tom (his Nephew?) drive us in a (ubiquitous) Mercedes. Fabulous! He suggested an early start at 7:30 from the ship to beat the crowds. Brilliant! We were nearly alone at all the spots, starting with the Acropolis where, when we left, it was a zoo on the way in. This tour was very inclusive and completely flexible. Following a glorious inexpensive lunch suggested by Tom we drove southeast toward Cape Sounion along the interesting coast, finally stopping for coffee and yummy deserts at a beach-side restaurant. Two benefits accrued here. Tom had lived in America for 10 years thus he spoke perfect English and had a huge sense of humor. Second was that he knows the history as would a professor. This was a very special day! Ephesus, Turkey, 10/14/09 Through Celebrity we booked the Ephesian Modus Vivandi excursion, including the Terrace Houses, a must see. A female guide provided excellent information with, once again, considerable wit. Well organized and just a bit pricey at 119 USD. The entrance was a complete zoo only to moderate slightly throughout the tour. The walk is quite long, over very uneven terrain, but all downhill. The WC is at the end of the long walk. Be prepared. The lunch was interesting and adequate in flavor and quantity, though not great (as you might expect). Wine was served gratis. The ubiquitous end-of-tour carpet show (sales pitch!) turned out to be very interesting. If in the market for a beautifully made carpet I believe good values can be had, shipped free (FedEx) without tax to your home (so they claim). To my surprise the port city of Kusadasi was by far the most beautiful (and clean!) city we encountered, together with the drive to Ephesus made for a pleasant trip. As promised, the vendors were very aggressive but we never felt threatened, in all a good time save for the huge crowds (of which we were a part of course!). Rhodes, Greece, 10/15/09 Through Celebrity we booked a last minute excursion. A female guide provided average information without wit. Not well organized and priced at 59 USD each as I recall. The ruins were of moderate interest (I was about ruined-out at this point) after a long bus ride and without a convenient WC. Remarkably, the tour guide suggested we take the long bus ride back to old town Rhodes before hitting a WC. The ladies were stressed! The bus driver fixed that by driving immediately to the coast (just a half mile) where there was a very nice restaurant for a break and refreshments. He saved the day! Back in Rhodes we found the old town and its history of great interest and had a fabulous lunch at Filippos Restaurant. Well, okay, it was Greek Salad and a very cold Mythos beer. We were stuck on that stuff. Be sure to ask for more olives. Yummy! Santorini, Greece, 10/16/09 We had booked an excursion, but canceled and elected to walk about with our two friends. The tender ashore was again a breeze. The queue at the cable car was very moderate and the ride up exhilarating (well, that's one way to put it) (our male friend was scared silly). The town itself is so-so interesting and very pricey. Others who did tours, I believe, had a more fulfilling day. We did a short day, ending near the cable car on a beautiful terrace overlooking the town and bay drinking a cold bottle of guess what and using the convenient WC. Naples, Italy, 10/18/09 Through Celebrity we booked the Exploration of Pompeii excursion. A male guide provided good information with little wit and was a bit hard to understand. Not well organized and priced at 69 USD each. The excursion participants were asked to meet on shore. There was a large crowd with several buses waiting. A Celebrity staffer simply kept shouting "go with the flow, go with the flow." There were no signs and no meaningful communication, thus a bit of chaos. After asking at each bus we found our way. This was the only example of a Celebrity failure. Having said that, and after driving through the ugliest city we saw, Pompeii was simply incredible. Do not miss this opportunity! Other than a fairly rigorous walk at the entrance and many steps leaving, the balance of the site is easy to see. Fascinating! The WC is only at the entrance to the site so be prepared. BTW, a WC can cost half a Euro, everywhere as it did here, so pack some change. Our up-front stop at the Cameo "factory" was interesting (to be kind). Our mandatory "shopping time" at the end of the tour was a waste of time. Not tipping the tour guide provoked a very angry stare. Oh well... Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was our first ever cruise and we were told it was the very best. The price was high but as it was our 40th Wedding anniversary it was to be something special. Never done before. everyone said we would love it! The ship itself ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise and we were told it was the very best. The price was high but as it was our 40th Wedding anniversary it was to be something special. Never done before. everyone said we would love it! The ship itself was magnificent at first sight. Breathtaking. The rooms: It was not what we expected for the price, clean but small, there was no light on the balcony so you couldn't sit and read after dark. On one change of bedding our sheets were ripped. Flowers in the room and bathroom were not changed and had died after a couple of days and got smelly. Cabin steward very good but didn't seems to notice flowers. The ship itself was magnificent in size but far too few sun beds for everyone to lay on whilst dodging the walkers racing around the deck. Sunbeds touched each other on the upper decks. But the cost of the drinks (which our travel agent told us were free if they were local drinks,we now know that she obviously meant tea,coffee and fruit juice) were very expensive, plus we didn't know that a 15% service charge was added EVERY TIME you ordered. In the restaurant the wine waiter recommended a wine but omitted to tell us it was $50 a bottle, plus the 15% of course, until we got the bill afterwards. A bit late then. Entertainment was mediocre. I would have thought that with a ship this big and the cost to passengers, that someone more well known could have been booked instead of the singers that kept trying to justify why they were there. The magician/illusionist was excellent as was the different points that some of the other entertainers played at in the different bars and walkways but they finished too early. Dancers were OK but nothing special. not in the same class as the ship portrays. Theatre comfortable and view was excellent. Restaurants. Top deck was just like any other "all in" hotel. Some of the waiters were on the whole sloppy and not very personable. Piles of empty plates seem not to cleared away as they stood talking together. Again not the standard expected. We bought the video. My advice is DONT BOTHER its a rip off. Ours even has people walking backwards and then speeds up to double speed. It didn't show the beautiful ship just a bit on how it was built not much on the interiors and they just added the few karaoke faces that had been on the ship that week. what a waste of money and very disappointing when we played it to our friends. shame on Celebrity, this wont sell your ship to others. We were also sold chips for our camera which didn't work..another $25 !! Being such a huge ship, why does it visit places like Santorini. With other ships already there plus our 3,000 passengers, we had to que up in the hot sun for well over an hour just to get on the chairlift or go against advice and get on the back of a dangerous and very smelly donkey. Many did and had rather nasty injuries afterwards being rammed against walls and one had a donkey fall on her. In Istanbul the ship wanted to charge $12 to get a coach to the main blue Mosque. We walked five minutes up the road and got on the brilliant new tram and paid $2.5 Take your time to check things like this out. The City was in Ramadan but the essence of the place was wonderful. Places to visit were all round the Blue Mosque area. We felt extremely safe walking around. You do have to pay to get into places of interest but they are all well worth the visit, especially the Harem. Athens: Argue and play the taxi drivers against each other for the cost for the day. Don't pay them till you have finished the day. Ours took us all around Athens telling us about the history and stopping at all the sights. Brilliant day. On our arrival back in Rome "Celebrity" had booked us into a hotel called The Empire Palace for some extra nights. Looking at some of the hotels that they had booked other guests into I think we got the best deal. One looked like it was a prison and was so far out of the town. I later heard that they had cold food, the place was dirty and smelly. Our hotel was not like the brochure. The wonderful looking terrace where we could dine had dirty plastic chairs and tables. The staff and in particular the head receptionist was arrogant and rude. Only the barman made any effort to make the group welcome. The rep disappeared pretty quickly as well and didn't come back. We had a room that we couldn't get into over 6 times! we had go go back to Reception each time and get some help. In the end they gave us a key! The room was good, although the food was extremely expensive and if you like decorated plates but no substance, this is the hotel for you. We have been to some of the best hotels in the world but this was dire. The waiting staff didn't know how to lay a basic table and we had to ask for cutlery and plates at breakfast. Restaurant was dull and dark. Why does celebrity use such second rate hotels where there are modern multi-chain ones that have a higher standard nearby? Overall we were extremely disappointed and feel totally let down by the Celebrity experience. Ask us if we would cruise with Celebrity again.... I doubt it. We heard so many complaining and saying other lines were better, not only for value but standards. It all ended up as "A disappointed dream." Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
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
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. All our Celebrity Solstice employees went over and above to make our trip a good one without exception. We were on the 7th floor with a balcony room which was very comfortable. We did not book any ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. All our Celebrity Solstice employees went over and above to make our trip a good one without exception. We were on the 7th floor with a balcony room which was very comfortable. We did not book any excursions with the ship which turned out just fine. In Messina, we walked past all of the taxi drivers and thought we might want to take the open double decker bus for a look at Messina. While walking through the square, we met Mario Astone, who turned out to be our favorite guide on the whole cruise. He had a van for six (the number in our group) and drove us up to Taormina in 30-40 minutes. We loved Taormina and our trip there with Mario who was so much fun. He dropped us off at the gates and askedus when we wanted him to take us back to Messina. We walked a few streets of Taormina and then went to the ancient ampi-theatre, which was cool and had great views. On the way back, Mario took us to a few "Wow spots" for cool pictures. We had a great day. In Mykonos and Rhodes, we walked through town and headed to the beach (via local bus in Mykonos). In Rhodes we walked (20 mins or so) and had a good time. In Athens, we took the local train to the Acropolis which was easy and clean (and cheap. Ephesus was the only spot in which you need a private guide or to sign up for the ship excursion (if you don't mind big groups). The cost for a private guide for six was about the same as the ship excursion cost. On Santorini, we loved Oia. After looking around the town, we found a cool pool bar where we spent the afternoon. All we had to do was pay for food or drinks and the swimming and shade umbrellas were free. This was a super spot on east side with a beautiful sea view. The local bus to Oia and back to Fira was crowded. Leave enough time to get back and down the hill without taking the trail down. Getting to and from Rome to the port, we didn't have that much luggage (2 roller bags each) and opted to take the local train. We have traveled in Italy before and find the local trains interesting,and much less expensive. From Rome to the port, it costs 4.50 Euro apiece. A money belt or secure place for valuables is a good ideas whenever on a local train in Rome or Naples. Getting to the airport on the morning of disembarkation was easy. We bought tickets at 8 Am at Civitavecchia train station after walking off the ship around 7:40. We were checked in at the airport and already to the gate by 10:30 Am (which included a 20-min transfer in Trastevere .. 1 stop after St Peters and 2 stops before the Termini in Rome). Good Cruise!! Celbrity Solstice manages everything carefully to ensure great service and efficient getting on and off the ship. They also have plenty of hand sanitizer thus making it a healthier cruise. 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
Solstice Review 17/08/09 Great Ship - Inconsistent Service One of the strange things that has been commented on before on Cruise Critic is that people on the same cruise can have vastly different experiences. I think a lot of this comes ... Read More
Solstice Review 17/08/09 Great Ship - Inconsistent Service One of the strange things that has been commented on before on Cruise Critic is that people on the same cruise can have vastly different experiences. I think a lot of this comes down to expectation and prior experience. I am writing this by way of warning because this review isn't from the point of view of a veteran mass market cruiser but rather someone new to cruising who is used to holidaying at resorts on land like the Aman Resorts in Asia, Sandy Lane in Barbados, Four Seasons anywhere, Stein Eriksen in Deer Valley... I will preface this review by saying that we had a really lovely family holiday aboard the Solstice. This was our second cruise, and our first with Celebrity (last year we sailed around Scandinavia on the RC Jewel of the Seas.) We had a really fabulous experience on our first cruise last year which led us to book aboard the Solstice. We booked with Celebrity on the basis that they seemed to offer a more luxurious, upmarket experience and were very excited about the new Solstice class of ships. The ship itself was certainly above and beyond our expectations - it is light, modern and luxurious. Sadly the service really lets the ship down, it is frustratingly inconsistent across venues and the staff ranged from very friendly to decidedly surly. The ship was completely full so Celebrity probably doesn't need any tips from me about how to run their business but in order to guarantee repeat customers I really think they need to focus on their staff management and training. Cabins: My cabin was great, a celebrity suite on deck 11 with an extra large balcony. Very comfortable with all the mod cons of a good hotel. My biggest tip to Celebrity here would be to remove the frosted glass between the living room and bedroom and replace it with clear glass and a blind. A few of the people in our group had the option to be in a Celebrity suite but preferred to stay in their sky suites because they didn't want to be in a bedroom which was essentially like an inside cabin. I really missed being able to see the sea from my bed - but all in all this issue is minor, I was very comfortable and well looked after by my cabin attendant. The Butler was pretty invisible but I get the impression this is only a perk if you have specific things for them to do. I didn't ask for anything and never ate in my room so the Butler service was close to nil, which suited me fine. I saw a Penthouse and a Royal suite both of which were very nicely appointed. Restaurants Murano: We arrived aboard thinking we would come here frequently but ate here only once on our first night aboard. Sadly the whole experience comes off as a parody of what one might expect from a Michelin starred restaurant on shore. Instead of attentive and polite the service tends to come off as greasy and obsequious. By way of background we all adore French food and have been lucky enough to eat at many very fine French restaurants in Europe and America - with this in mind the food is only just ok, but tends towards being stodgy and overwrought- the soufflEs were sadly sagging by the time they reached the table. The management staff went out of their way on a number of occasions to let us know that we were very lucky to be given a table because they were so busy - suffice to say that in good restaurants the key is making the customer feel the exact opposite, they they are pleased and delighted to have you as a guest regardless of how busy they might be. In short, the management staff at Murano have a great deal to learn about top class service, the snob factor they try to bring to the experience is almost comedically out of place at sea. Tuscan Grille: We ate here many times during the course of the cruise - the food is tasty and the service friendly. The restaurant managers were always very welcoming and charming but the basic level of table service was poor. Glasses would go unfilled, plates uncleared, all while 4 or 5 waiters would be working our table at once. It seemed that the staff had very limited training in the basics of efficient restaurant service. Orders were frequently taken wrongly or forgotten altogether, of course we're on holiday so we're pretty relaxed about all these sorts of details but they are worth pointing out in a review. The food is nice, the pastas are tasty, and the steaks competently cooked but certainly nothing you probably can't have at your local neighbourhood Italian. Silk Harvest: The manager at Silk Harvest was really great and always went out of his way to get us a table - but again the table service suffered from the same slightly amateurish problems as the other restaurants, but the food was always quick and tasty - the sushi was lovely and fresh. Oceanview Cafe: As far as buffet food goes it is very hard to fault the Oceanview, everything seems fresh and tasty, plenty of choice all day. The crowds can be a little aggressive at breakfast but all in all this venue does exactly what it should do, and it does it very well. Grand Epernay: We ate here twice and both times the food was good and the service friendly. The first time was at the captain's table which we all thoroughly enjoyed and the second time was towards the end of the cruise at our own table. The food here isn't haute cuisine, but it is prepared in a way that probably appeals to the broadest audience. I had Chateaubriand one night and pork chop the other and both were good. I had a middle course of soup one night which was pretty closely related to something you would probably find in a tin at your local supermarket but still all absolutely fine. We found all the napkin waving, light flashing, drum banging, Auld Lang Syne singing on the last formal night to be absolutely totally bizarre. It was like being in a TGI Fridays or something and again really totally destroyed any illusion of sophistication that had been carefully created by the dEcor and dress code. Although again, while we found it odd one or two of the tables around us seemed to enjoy it, so it might just be that we are totally out of step with the demographic and routines of cruising. Quasar + Martini+ Sky : The design elements of Quasar are cool but the space itself doesn't really work, it is an awkward corridor of a room and there is no natural flow between the bar and dancefloor. Conversely Sky is a really fabulous room but is sadly underutilized. There were a lot of Spanish speakers on our cruise and the DJ in Quasar played almost exclusively Spanish language pop music which was a bit disappointing and as a result really alienated a lot of English speakers we spoke to, who went once but didn't go back. Consequently the crowd was largely the same core of very young Spanish speakers every night. The DJ became friendly with them and had a clipboard to get all their facebook details on the last night... sometimes becoming overly friendly with a small group of passengers can affect the ability of staff to cater to a wider audience. The bartenders in Quasar were decidedly unfriendly and a cash tip really had to be laid down in order to guarantee any kind of consistent service. We found this to be an ongoing problem, I understand that for a lot of the barstaff their livelihood depends on tips but they really need to work on the basic upfront levels of politeness and friendliness. We spoke to some Australian people on the cruise who commented that they found many of the staff throughout the boat to be surly unless engaged in an activity which involved an upsell or a tip which was something that our party of 11 also consistently found. I agree in tipping for good service but (chicken and egg) the good service has to be forthcoming in order to warrant a tip... I understand that it is probably a very difficult life on board ship, but its really not the customer's fault. The Martini bar was a great venue for a pre/post-dinner drinks and the staff there really set an excellent example. Carlito always served us quickly and efficiently and went out of his way to make our experience a good one. Consequently we always went out of our way to make sure he was generously tipped. Celebrity really need to set the bar higher and spend more time auditing the behaviour of their staff. The good service here highlighted in many ways how patchy the service was elsewhere. The only downside is probably the music which is too loud and a terrible Euro/techno mix from about 1999. One time when we were in the bar alone we asked them to turn it down enough so we could have a conversation and our waiter very apologetically told us that management wouldn't allow them to turn the music down. By the pool was the same, bad pop music played much too loud. It's a little as though someone at Celebrity thinks that very loud music played by the pool (and everywhere else) creates a party atmosphere. In reality it just creates noise pollution and inhibits conversation. I'm 28 and used to nightclub environments so I can only imagine how annoying this must be for older passengers. Those used to real four and five star service will probably come away decidedly disappointed. If what you are looking for is huge amounts of food, huge numbers of people, huge cocktails and loud 'party' music piped throughout the ship then you will undoubtedly come away happy. I would recommend the Solstice, but with the important caveat that the overall experience is more Holiday Inn than Four Seasons. 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
My husband and I are 40ish and have done cruises on various Celebrity, Cunard, Star and NCL ships. We flew into Rome 2 days early and stayed at the Sheraton. Not a new hotel, but with very warm service, great breakfast and with a good ... Read More
My husband and I are 40ish and have done cruises on various Celebrity, Cunard, Star and NCL ships. We flew into Rome 2 days early and stayed at the Sheraton. Not a new hotel, but with very warm service, great breakfast and with a good shuttle service into town. Transfer to and from the port was no problem. We had booked a "Rome Taxi" transfer at EUR130 each way. They were punctual, very helpful and cars were well maintained and new. We reached the dock at around 12 and boarding was extremely quick. We were on the ship in less than 5 minutes. The Ship: If you like rich wood paneling, lush carpeting, thick table clothes and fine China, you should cruise on the Millennium series of ships. If you like white plastic, aircraft cabin like mood lighting, sterile China and tiled flooring, you would like Solstice. The little wood on board, or actually "faux wood paneling", at the Sky Observation Lounge entrance was already severely blistering and falling off the walls. Negotiating the long walk from the front cabins to the aft Blu dining room was also treacherous, since much of it is through tiled areas. Very unlike Millie where a girl can safely walk her high heels through lush carpet on the way to the dining room. The ship only has 2 elevator banks, again unlike Millie class that has 3. The waits for the lifts were incredible long and very annoying. The Lawn Club was nice, but all of it had been declared a smoking zone. Also, the outside area of the buffet was much smaller. We had next to no chance to sit outside, which was one of our favorite spots on the Millie ships. None of the pools appeared significantly bigger either, yet you have 1,000 more passengers on board. On sea days, it was very, very difficult to secure seats on deck, let alone a recliner. There were babies in the pool and Jacuzzi (even in the Aqua Spa). One promptly emptied its gut into the Jacuzzi, right next to us. Kids were jumping into the pools from the Jacuzzis above with no regard what or whom they would hit at the bottom. We were disappointed that dozens of staff were hawking drinks, yet none were assigned to ensure basic pool safety, let alone enforce Celebrity rules such as "nobody under 16 in the Aqua Spa pool or Jacuzzis". In short, Solstice feels a lot more crammed than Millie class ships. Although Solstice has a few more gimmicks, such as its Lawn Club, none of the facilities that really matter are missing from Millie. Solstice is a very generic looking ship, with little character of its own. It is undoubtedly designed to be easily sold to another line in a couple of years. The Cabin : - Great storage spaces. Wardrobe access a little awkward next to the bed. - Don't expect more space. We could not detect any size difference versus Millie CC cabins. - Solstice has only fabric covered balcony furniture. These are not steady and we tipped over backwards twice when we were in the reclined position. Quite dangerous. Millie class has much better, padded balcony furniture. - Sound proving on Solstice is bad. Could hear music from deck above and every word of our neighbors. - A lot of kids in AQ class on this sailing. Very noisy!! - Also several chain smokers who smoked inside their AQ cabins. Staff were unable to get them under control. - In short, AQ may not give you the Zen like Spa peace and quiet you anticipated The Dining Rooms: Since we were booked in AQ class, we enjoyed meals at Blu. Service at the Blu was very personalized and friendly. The breakfast was outstanding and is not to be missed. However, we felt that dinners were hit and miss. Many days, dishes were simply bland. For example, a pork cutlet was served with no sauce, a piece of broccoli and no seasoning on the meat either. Yet, a couple of nights later, we enjoyed the most delicious Filet Mignon ever. The only constant in this inconsistency were the deserts, which were disappointing. Ice creams dominated the desert menu every evening. Why are there not more baked deserts on the menu? Murano was a beautiful space, with great food. Certainly worth the extra USD30. Great meal, which was just a little rushed. If was full most evenings and staff had to get their table politely but firmly ready for later seatings. MDR was our choice for a couple of lunches. The food never disappointed. In fact, the pastas were very good and we felt that food was better than Blu after a couple of meals. We do miss the panorama windows that were the main feature of Celebrity's other ships. The MDR on these is always located at the back. In terms of decor, the MDR was the most underwhelming of any ship we have been on. The wine tower is simply not much to stare at. The Buffet cannot be recommended. Layout is poor and passenger flow even worse. There is no pattern to what stations repeat what foods (and believe me, there is a lot of repetition) and no intuitive way of navigating the many cooking islands. At most meal times, it's a zoo and a chaotic gridlock. To make matter worse, we really were annoyed with the "no tray" policy. Try balancing a plate of food, your napkin with cutlery (no spoons, so you have to pick these up separately as well) and a drink through a hungry crowd. Absolutely disappointing compared with the lovely buffets we have enjoyed on other ships. Food was unimaginative, only the Pizza and mid-afternoon Ice Cream can be recommended. Drink machines were frequently out of order and/or flooding the floors and tables were not cleaned in a timely manner. Many items ran out, with long periods of no replacement (plates, salad sauces etc.) Avoid this venue altogether if you can! The Entertainment Another area of disappointment. We saw iBroadway on Millennium recently. Much better than anything on offer on Solstice. Its Broadway show featured songs none of us had ever heard. The "Stars Of Solstice" were not as talented as their Millennium counterparts and there seemed to be an emphasis on screaming with vibrato rather than singing. There was a good Celtic Duet and also a very enjoyable celebrity impersonator on board. Both of these outclassed the Stars of Solstice completely. The Cirque De Soleil type show featured some great acrobatic work. However, the Stars of Solstice were once again woven into the storyline of this performance - it would have been better without them. Lastly, we have to echo the comment made in other review on music. There was simply no quiet place on the boat. Every public space had various types of music doodling away at volumes that were far too high and unpleasant. We have never been fans of pool bands, and the Solstice one was not something we enjoyed. Problem is there is really nowhere to get away from the noise on this ship. Coupled with the bad sound proofing, we could even hear the gym music from the gym's balcony above our cabin blaring all day. Solstice, tone down the volume in all your public areas please. We are not deaf!! Verdict : this cruise offered a great itinerary, which we enjoyed. However, the ship is sterile and too crowded. It does not feel as lush or luxurious as its Millennium class sisters. Passenger movement, especially waiting for the lifts, was a major nuisance and we would not choose Solstice class again. Back to Millennium class for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum, oops wrong story. Well, we actually started our trip in Rome at a beautiful hotel called the Hotel Majestic. The hotel was wonderful and included an "American breakfast". Not ... Read More
A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum, oops wrong story. Well, we actually started our trip in Rome at a beautiful hotel called the Hotel Majestic. The hotel was wonderful and included an "American breakfast". Not really. European all the way with prociutto, baked cressants, sweet breads, eggs, fruit, yogurt and a choice of American or Italian coffee. You're kidding. Who would in their right mind would choose American coffee? Yuk I would highly recommend the Hotel Majestic and sitting  outside to enjoy breakfast! Rome was hot but still beautiful! We walked all over the city enjoying the various fountains, coffee, gelato, pizza and of course the sights. We were picked up the second day by Pepe, a fabulous driver from Limoinrome who gave us a quick tour of Rome before heading out to Civitavecchia Port. Wow, we really enjoyed our time with Pepe. He showed something we will never forget: "The Keyhole to Rome". Incredible. You'll have to meet him and ask to see it. The Celebrity Solstice was beautiful. Extremely artsey ship. Our room was nice but I feel that after traveling on various cruise lines, the company scrimped on the ship's insulation between floors and rooms. We heard  a lot of noise above and next door to us. We even heard the phone ringing next door and loud Italian voices coming from next door daily.The food was good in the main dining room but not anything to write home about. The specialty restaurants, especially The Murano were outstanding. It was so outstanding, 5 star all the way, that we ate their twice. The ship's shows were spectacular, best I ever saw on cruise ships.  The Greek Islands were nice but we enjoyed Turkey and the Amalfi Coast even more.We rented ATV's in Santorini and were advised to head to Oui. This is the most picturesque spot of Santorini. Well worth driving ATV's to see. It is true that the best time to photograph the Greek Islands are in the late afternoon. The sun reflects off the islands giving it a beautiful hue. Interesting, but Greek men in Santorini, Mykonos and Athens were quite grumpy and irritable (especially those in uniform). We didn't find this to be true about our Greek staff on the ship. As a matter of fact, the ship's captain was very funny. We took Cruisecritic member's suggestions about Ekoltravel tours in Turkey and they were fabulous. I would highly recommend this company. The tour guides we had in Istanbul and Ephesus were great and so full of knowledge, patience and character.Ayzsequl Argaboglu showed us the sights in Istanbul for 2 days and we enjoyed her company and vast knowledge of her country and city. We highly recommend that you see the Dolmabace Palace which was more beautiful than the Topkaki Palace. Shopping in the Grand Bazaar was fun but not the highlight and yes, I love to shop. Going with a guide help matters as she was able to help negotiate. We took the ship's Turkish night club/dinner/show excursion. The food was unedible but the bellydancing made up for it. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on water and soda. The Turkish Baklava that our guide bought us was amazing! It made it all the way home and eaten a week later! We were fortunate enough to see Ephesus, the showplace of Aegean archaeology with an archaeologist who Ekol gave us a tour guide. Bulent (Bill to us) Soysal was fabulous. What a way to see the ruins! I highly recommend paying alittle more to see the Terrace House. We had a authentic Turkish lunch in Selchuk followed by our very own fashion show in a Turkish Leather Factory/showroom. Turkish leather is gorgeous and 5 out of 6 of us came home with some treasures!We followed that us with a trip to see how silk is spun and more carpet demos. I suggest trying Turkish coffee for those coffee enthusiasts but I warn you, it doesn't taste like coffee...it's more like swallowing chewing tobacco. The Turkish apple tea offered was delightful! We spent the rest of the time at the Kusadasi Port which was beautiful. Our guide warned us to be aware of fakes in the bazaar. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the Acropolis...yes, I broke my toe on the ship simply catching my toe on a lounge chair on the pool deck. I still managed to climb the Acropolis though. I wasn't going to miss that. Be careful climbing as it is slippery in certain areas. But this was the highlight of our trip! Even with a broken toe. Wow! Breathtaking. The rest of Athens was interesting to see but just ok. Our driver was very negative about his city and the economics of their country. We enjoyed the best Greek lunch, Musaka, in the Platka area in a little Mom and Pop shop that we found on our own. I couldn't walk anymore after lunch but my friends told me the Platka was fun to shop and see. The absolute highlight of this trip was the Amalfi Coast. We got picked up by Mario Giafalli, a true gentleman from Italylimouisine who delighted and entertained us as we drove the Amalfi Coast. We took his suggestion and drove the coast line first before we did Pompeii. Excellent idea as we had more time to enjoy the magnificent scenery and shop alittle in Positano, stop in Amalfi and lunch in Ravello. We then headed to Pompeii to enjoy the ruins there with a private guide. Our friends suggested not wasting time in Naples with our day and I'm glad to listen to their advise. All in all, the trip was fabulous. The ship was beautiful with a few building flaws. The ship's spa was lovely. I enjoyed a Tai Pumice Message. My husband enjoyed his Sweedish messages.  The staff was lovely too. 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
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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