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Sail Date: July 2009
The Ship is beautiful, classy and well laid out as mentioned many times before.   The buffet area was a bit of a bun fight on occasion and on sea days the ship was busy but most of the time it never seemed too crowded anywhere ... Read More
The Ship is beautiful, classy and well laid out as mentioned many times before.   The buffet area was a bit of a bun fight on occasion and on sea days the ship was busy but most of the time it never seemed too crowded anywhere and it was easy to enjoy quiet times on much of the ship. The lawn was well kept and we found it great to walk, sit, drink and play on it. Staterooms We had a  c.c room right at the back of the ship, 1676, which was a little tight for 2 plus an untidy 13 year old but very comfortable and well appointed, the bathrooms are spacious with a good large power shower and lots of room for 'stuff' .  One word of warning! The back balconies are great for relaxing (no soot noticed) but one evening we returned to find vomit all over the balcony. My wife lost the urge for our late night drinks al fresco after this. Guest Relations failed miserably when I reported this.   Service On the whole service was very good. Our room attendant Deniz worked unobtrusively and catered to all our wishes. Our waiters in the Grand Eperney were magnificent! Imade and Imade, collectively known as Eminem were so charming and friendly but very professional, remembering our previous requests and likes and ensuring we never had to ask again for them on following mealtimes. The kids and teens were looked after so well that they looked forward to dining there every night. The sommelier, Mihaela, was an absolute peach, professional, charming, knowledgeable and pretty to boot! There were great drinks to be had in a few of the bars, the Martini bar and the Ensemble Lounge in particular were memorable though a martini too many and you wouldn't even remember what day it was. Particularly disappointing were the drinks in the Theatre, we had badly made ones, some with wrong ingredients, some sickly sweet and once so late in coming that the show had finished! don't worry though , the martini bar is just outside and we quickly learned to bring one with us to the shows   Shows/music The Solstice 'cirque style' show was great and the 'Starring you' guest talent competition was obviously a lot of fun because..well it starred us, the guests! Note to Entertainments Officer - I'm not sure if having 2 violin based shows is a good idea, hearing The devil went down to Georgia, Riverdance, and Popera's greatest hits more than once is too much for anybody in a 10 day period. Some great musicians were to be heard around the ship, hats off in particular to cheeky young accapella quartet Soul'd Out with great vocal arrangements of Creedence and Neil Diamond in that 50's do wop style. A swinging piano trio cropped up around the ship, augmented by hip young(ish) vocalist Victor in the Ensemble Lounge coming on like Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet rolled into one - excellent. A mention must be made of the piped music and pool D.J also, it is difficult but I believe Celebrity have got it just right with cool jazz, soul, ballads and R&B, laid back but not too commercial and cheesy as can happen when trying to cater for a large cross section of people. The D.J managed to play contemporary chilled out House music with broad appeal too; as someone who finds most of that 4/4 techno club music mind numbingly dull I enjoyed sizzling out on the deck with the music and sunshine!   Food The buffet was a bit 'samey'  with little imagination or variety but the quality of ingredients were very decent. Coffee was an improvement on last years Sea Princess voyage but still dire! A big plus was the thirst quenching and not too sweet still lemonade available around the clock. We dined on the second sitting and had good, sometimes excellent food most of the time however a couple of times the food was a little tepid served on cold plates, you could see the waiters are aware that there is a service issue from the kitchen side of things, come on chef, sort it out, you know it can be done! The last formal evening's dinner was disappointing with cold unappetizing food and a crap menu. Again, you can see the waiters fire fighting, bringing extra dishes to taste and entertaining the kids and such but bad is bad I'm afraid. Speciality Dining We dined in Murano, the French fine dining restaurant for an extra 30 bucks a head.   I really don't know anywhere you can have a classic and impeccable dining experience like this without blowing a really serious amount of money.   Putting aside the food, which was beautiful - whole Dover sole, properly boned tableside, gorgeous snail tortellini and the best soufflE I've eaten in years, so often these days they are twice baked and taste like flavoured omelette soufflEs now I have stopped ordering them in restaurants. If you really loved something they are happy to bring you another portion, as they are elsewhere but without another 100 bucks on the bill!   Oh yes, putting aside the food, the ambience is refined and elegant and the service is outstanding, both cheeky and professional at the same time, and drinking a favourite wine in the correct glass is a joyful experience.   I predict this place will start to appear in the guides soon though I don't know how Michelin will stretch to sending their inspectors on a cruise!   We also dined at Silk Harvest, the Asian Fusion restaurant that carries a 20 dollar surcharge. It is a great room and dining there is fun with the sharing plates, you can order the whole menu if you like but I wouldn't recommend it! My wife cannot eat rice and they were happy to make a large plate of sashimi for us, Tuna, shrimp, eel, tilapia and salmon. Unfortunately the fish was all a little flaccid and the rest of the food was just so so. I would not return to a restaurant serving this food back home in Blighty,  it was more cheap noodle joint or chop suey house than 'upscale Asian Fusion'      Ports The ports of call on this 10 night cruise were Civitavecchia, Messina, Athens Mykonos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Naples, then  back to Civitavecchia. We really enjoyed the itinerary of this cruise and these were our personal highlights;   Mykonos What a funky little Greek Island, the people were friendly and we spent half a day lounging on the beach in the Town centre and being whipped by the coarse sand and ferocious wind - very nice and cheaper than the exfoliating massage on board. I sneaked off for a chicken giro that I had been pining for.   Kusadasi Another great place to wander around, we planned on Ephesus but it was just too damn hot to be wandering around ruins after touring the furnace that was Athens. The girls went mad in the shops, terrorising the young Turks and giving them a taste of their own medicine 'You have no nice bags, why? These are cheap, not good quality, do you have a cousin' we laughed a lot and I bought a suit as the sea air seemed to have shrunk everything I had brought with me. A Turkish bath and massage was had by all (and a couple more kebabs).   Santorini Wow! Dramatic scenery or what! After a trip up the cable car and a wander around town the 7 of us hired a boat to take us around the sites. I wish we had found Stathis and his boat 'Anemos' earlier. For a couple of euros more per person than the big boats which were choc full of people we had this amazing boat to ourselves with the charming Stathis at the helm. After a trip along the coast and a visit to the Caldera we were lucky enough to get to the hot springs without another soul in sight, we had a half hour lolling in the murky yellow hot water and as we swam back to our boat 3 more big boat loads arrived and about 200 people threw themselves in the sea heading towards us, we felt privileged to have had it to ourselves, a delightful trip You can find Stathis down on the waterfront and his number is 22860 22932 or 6937 199 033. We asked him for a restaurant recommendation and spent the rest of the afternoon eating grilled fish and drinking beer with a view. An outstanding day.   Napoli I overheard someone on board saying they had walked into Naples and found it lacklustre so returned to the ship. Oh dear, they never discovered why Naples was first stop on the itinerary of every Gentleman and Lady's Grand European Tour back in the day, why they say 'see Naples and die' or why it was once the most visited place in Europe after London and Paris. The architecture is magnificent and the views of the bay, well they really are to die for! If you do not want to take the ships afternoon tour which my Italian Aunt did and proclaimed excellent you can take the open topped tourist bus that we took (family ticket 66 euros for 2 adults and 3 kids up to 18), the recorded commentary through headphones is interesting and do make sure you do the coastal route as 4 different routes are available. It was hotter than July and I also learned patience is indeed a virtue.   A fabulous plate of spaghetti vongole in a backstreet trattoria ended a magical day.   For anyone wanting a trip to Herculaneum the local ferry takes 10 minutes and costs 3.5 euros, it departs at 9.10 but give yourself time to buy a ticket from the office right on the dock by the cruise terminal. There are a couple of ferries back in the P.M but you can also get the local train. I never knew it was so close by sea; cheap too; I shall try not to miss it next time!   Conclusion There were 11 of us on the cruise ranging from 7 to 70 and we all enjoyed it and felt well catered for. I would probably not cruise on Solstice again - I now know that I prefer a smaller ship as it is easier to bump into people more than once but I shall look forward to sailing on another smaller class Celebrity ship in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
My wife and I are first time cruisers and although unfamiliar with the terrain (or seascape as the case may be) I will venture several opinions in this review that I hope will be helpful to any cruisers - newbie and seasoned alike.  ... Read More
My wife and I are first time cruisers and although unfamiliar with the terrain (or seascape as the case may be) I will venture several opinions in this review that I hope will be helpful to any cruisers - newbie and seasoned alike.  Firstly the Celebrity Solstice is a remarkably sophisticated ship with an adult flavor (no rockwalls - no water slides) and a staff that caters to your every need and want.  It makes you think of what elegant cruising may have been like back in the days of regular transatlantic crossings.   To begin, we arrived at Rome FCO airport on the 16th of July ex NYC JFK via Alitalia airlines.  Those who may have followed my luggage concerns on CruiseCritic over Alitalia's 11 lb carry-on restrictions need not worry to much as passengers on our ½ full evening flight going and full early afternoon flight returning to NYC ex Rome FCO were not scrutinized much and I could have walked on with a steamer trunk going to Rome and no one would have noticed.  Just kidding of course but with that said I would not take the chance as one lady was stopped at boarding in Rome with a piece over 11 lbs.  But everybody seemed to have large bulky luggage boarding that I am sure weighed well over 11 lbs.  I still would follow our plan and check 3 pieces thru and have 2 carry-ons pp placing one smaller piece, with critical essentials you need to board with, inside the larger piece (also filled around with personal items around the edges) plus the second smaller second carry-on you are allowed.  If stopped at boarding than just pull out the smaller piece from the larger carry-on and redistribute your belongings giving the larger piece now to the attendant to check thru as your 4th allowable piece of checked luggage.  Now you both walk on with your 2 allowable and legal pieces of carry-on luggage.  The weight and size restrictions have penalties that are high, starting at 50 Euros and going up as high as  150 Euros for a third piece of checked luggage pp with weight and size penalties applying on top of that!  I fretted many a night over this I don't see an alternative plan with Alitalia accept for booking with another Airline whose weight carry-on restrictions can be as high as 30 lbs!  I am not so much a seasoned air passenger but I see I may have to go back to school for another degree - this one on the science of airline luggage requirements or how to beat the system at their own game.  Both flights were smooth, fast and my luggage arrived with me so I am not going to complain...for now. My wife and I, along with a friend we met on CC and arranged to meet at FCO, transferred to the port city of Civitavecchia and stayed at the Hotel Bramante.  Please remember that the 45 minute transfer will run 110-140 Euros depending on the transfer company you may use so get on the CC boards early to arrange to share your ride if you are so inclined.  The Hotel Bramante is a wonderful boutique style hotel - modern and clean - with a full breakfast and within walking distance of several beaches and the port promenade which caters to a lively night time crowd mingling between many nicely decorated restaurants.  The hotel staff was kind and attentive and the owner even gave us a lift to our restaurant engagement at the port.  We dined with several of our new cruise mates and then we strolled the promenade, stopped for some gelato, people watched all those that came out at 10 pm to be seen, strolled out on a walkway jetty to catch the cool summer nighttime breeze off the Mediterranean Sea and on the way back to the promenade eyed a Salsa dance party/instruction on a make shift dance floor on the beach!  Very cool.   We boarded the Solstice the next day about 1 pm.  The Hotel Bramante offers a free transfer (about 10 minutes away) to dockside.  Checking in was a breeze.  We got to our room and our luggage followed about an hour later.  BTW, I did not take any notes or keep a journal here so I am doing all of this by memory.  Keeping a vacation journal is not a bad idea.  My good friends, SandG, whom we met on the CC boards and later teamed up with on several private tours, just wrote me to say how from the journals that S keeps, they visited the same pensions in Switzerland a few years ago that they had stayed at on their honeymoon some years earlier! Now that is record keeping.  As this cruise overall was wonderful and very memorable it should not be difficult to recall the highlights and I will try my best to be informative.  We were fortunate enough to secure a cabin in Aqua Class and although the difference in Aqua Class and most of the other veranda cabins are negligible there does exist several difference that are noticeable.  Room size, veranda and bathrooms are the same size.  The main differences are that in Aqua Class you get a fresh fruit plate each day, a plate of several tiny finger food selections that we canceled, the towels which are very fluffy and luxurious, the bathrobes which are waffled and thick and the shower has a large diameter rainfall shower head with 5 water jets along a vertical unit that runs parallel to your body and pulsates water at your body from knee to chest.  I didn't think those jets would make much of an impact but I have to admit I became attached to my showering regiment after the first time.  The fruit was nice and you can take them out with you on port excursions but you can easily go up to the Ocean View Cafe and accomplish the same result.  Two bottles of water are supplied each day but I understand that also occurs at the other cabin classes.  Other than that there is not much difference.  If you are as lucky as we were and found the cabin price drop to $100 difference between Concierge Class and Aqua Class then why not go for it.  Do check on line with CelebrityCruise.com every day for price fluctuations.  Our good friends, JSpirit and SandG, whom we met on-line with CruiseCritic, looked out for us and got us considerable savings several times by just checking and being aware.  I learned a good lesson on that front.  If I told you I saved $2000 would you believe me?  Believe it.  There are other amenities advertised with Aqua Class such as priority tender boarding and disembarking but that never was an issue for us. Some how the cabin staff knew exactly when you would be stepping out of you cabin for a spell and when you returned your bed was made and your personal things put in a neat and orderly arrangement for your convenience.  I will say that the mini bar was nicely stocked and reasonably priced...2,50 E for a coke if I am not mistaken.  If you are like me and do not drink alcohol you may do as I did not and ask for the alcohol in the mini bar to be removed to make more room in the mini bar for other items.  Sometimes I just end up doing things the hard way and it drives my wife crazy.  Your bed is also turned down each night while you are out of the cabin with chocolates left out on the bed for most class cabins. If there are just two of you and you have global capabilities on your cell phones you may want to consider purchasing an extra wide spaced 4 outlet 3 prong power strip to accommodate chargers and the like.  Monster makes one that I found to work well so that you can charge 2 cell phones, a digital camera and camcorder at the same time easily.  You can pick it up at Radio Shack for less than $10!  A few of us in our on-line "cruise crew" group got the power strip and it worked well. There is plenty of storage space in the cabins.  Besides closet and drawer space, there is an above the bed cabinet storage area and under the bed storage.  In the bathroom there are 5-6 storage shelves to accommodate most of your sundries.  I have heard some people complain about the closet space.  I can't quite understand that.  No one should do what I did, as a newbie, anyway, and over pack.  I had to have one suitcase open as storage due to my own over indulgence.  It was ok but no need to over do it like that again   Normally speaking the closet is more than adequate to accommodate anyone's average 10 day stay at sea.  After all, you are not relocating to Las Vegas like I was pretending to do, as my DW insisted.  The tv has a good selection of movies, news and comedy.  My only complaint is I wish the remote control and tv were more responsive.  Channel changing and volume are slow but I think that is inherent either in the signal or the electronics of an LCD tv.  I find the same thing on my big screen at home.  Sometimes I miss my big box JVC TV set as I could fly around the channels with my remote.  Now let's look at the dining.  For breakfast you have several choices.  Room service is fantastic.  You can call at 7 AM and have you breakfast delivered to your room, with everything you requested, by 7:30 AM and dining on your veranda by 7:35 AM with the Mediterranean Sea racing by under your feet or inside the caldera at Santorini facing the cliff town of Fira or viewing the walled Old City at Rhodes harbor.  Either way it is a wonderful way to start the day. Or you can breakfast at the Ocean View cafe with a huge selection of items to choose from.  Or if you are In Aqua Class you can breakfast off a complete menu in the Blu Restaurant with waiter service from 7:30 AM to 9 AM.  There are also smaller venue cafes around the ship from which to choose a light breakfast. Lunch is self serve at the Ocean View Cafe or at the other smaller venues like the Bistro at 5 with waiter service or the pool side cafes.  Crepes to steak are available with much to choose from in between. Dinner is a very special experience as you can imagine.  Formal days are normally the 2 sea days on a 10 day cruise...day 3 and day 9.  But that is always at the discretion of the Ships Captain/Master.  Formal wear is tux/suit for men and cocktail dress, gown or dressy pant suit for ladies.  I will try and make this brief by only saying that each of the 5 major restaurants: the MDR - open to all; Tuscan (Italian), Morano (French) and Silk Harvest (Asian)- each from $20 -30 pp; and Blu - similar to MDR with a varied cuisine but only available to Aqua Class passengers, are all wonderful dining experiences in their own right.  All restaurants are all you can eat.  The dining service in each is impeccable.  Your courses are delivered promptly, the waiter staff is very friendly and remembers your particular likes and requirements readily, the maitre d' and ass't maitre d' make a point of coming to your table to chat with you each evening and seconds are always available for every course.  If you want try the fish and pasta main courses at the same time, than you may.  And this all holds true for each of the 5 restaurants I mentioned above.  I will have to leave the wine review for someone else as I don't drink alcohol but if my 6th sense is as sharp as I would hope I would venture to guess that whatever your grape requirement may be I am pretty sure that your tastes can be accommodated.  The MDR has a 3 story high wine silo rising off the main floor in the middle of the MDR!  Also each of the 5 main restaurants has their own dedicated kitchen.  You can read about the other smaller dining venues in on-line reviews thru google.  Bistro At 5, that has a $5 cover charge for all you can eat, is also a fine dining facility for light fare including delicious crepes.  I have said before here on CC that I do not run in fine dining circles very often in NYC where I live.  I have dined with clients (before I started teaching mathematics I worked in the marketing departments of several Steamship lines including Italian Lines) over the years at such wonderful eateries as Peter Luger Steakhouse in my adopted borough of Brooklyn (I was born and raised in Manhattan), Windows On The World at the late 1WTC, the old Quilted Giraffe, 21 Club, and One If By Land, arguably the most romantic restaurant in NYC.  I would feel comfortable with going out on a limb by saying any of the main restaurants on the Solstice, even the huge MDR, could rival the best NYC restaurants in cuisine and service.  Anybody that thinks differently reminds me of the girls my mother would warn me about...the clothes label "blanks".  To such people only popularity, such as to see and be seen, becomes the most meaningful reason to dine, regardless of the service or cuisine.  Don't let that fool you.  These restaurants on the Solstice are top notch.  But which food critic in their right mind would dare rate a cruise ship restaurant highly.  They would be laughed off the planet.  Oh well...let it be our secret then.  I guess I did have a lot to say about dining. Unfortunately I cannot comment about much of the entertainment.  I had a late dining seating (8:45PM) and coming off land tours at 5PM often had my wife and I missing the early show due to the exhaustion of 110 degree weather at Ephesus for example (don't get me wrong, I am not complaining.  It just is what it is) and then dining through the late show.  I did catch 2 shows in the Solstice theatre.  One was a series of well choreographed and adeptly sung past and present Broadway show tunes (I am sorry, I do not remember the show title) in a montage format that would rival any Off Broadway production.  Being from Manhattan I have some exposure to that level of entertainment.  And the other is a show called Pulse that is a Cirque du Soleil type show.  I have seen CDS in Montreal and Las Vegas several times and they are the standard.  I also have seen the CDS show that comes to NYC's Randalls Island each spring and I would say that the Solstice Pulse show is better than the NYC CDS show.  Those performers, on the Solstice multi million dollar techno stage, are truly marvelous athletes and entertainers and could easily step into any real CDS performance, I am sure. I have heard that people did miss the old tried and true hypnotist on many cruise ships.  A fun thing to experience I am sure.  And also some had commented that they would have liked to see a more risquE adult type comedian at a late show.  No matter what your moral bent some of those jokes can be downright side splitting. Finally, I will briefly (that is plan at least) comment on the ports visited on this 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise.  Most of the ports have been reviewed extensively on CC and other internet sites.  I will only attempt to be informative and helpful in my commentary here.  In Sicily, Taormina is a must see unless you have family there to visit with.  Syracusa and Catania are a bit out of reach for a short day tour and Palermo is not really a worthwhile touristy spot. I give myself permission to say that as I am part Sicilian.  Mt. Etna, near Taormina, is a point of interest if volcanoes are your thing.  So opposite of what Horace Greely wrote, "Go east young man". Athens - The Athenians are wonderful friendly and generous people.  The Acropolis is MUST.  It is the cradle of western civilization and awe inspiring. The Plaka shopping and dining district is a pleasant diversion.  If time permits the Nat'l Archeological Museum is wonderful and just as important is the brand new Archeological Museum  open last month just outside the Acropolis/Plaka area.  The downside is that Athens needs a face lift.  Everybody comments on that and you will see it for yourself.  It is worn and graffiti ridden and the housing is box like gray units reminding you of a failed attempt at socialism.  It is a shame.  Such a wonderfully historic venue filed with lovely, vibrant and fun loving people living in such a drab surroundings.  Now let us go to Rhodes and compare the differences. Rhodes - As soon as you step off the ship into Old Town and travel 20-30 km inland you noticed several things immediately starting at Old Town and continuing out to the outskirts of town.  Everywhere the greenery and flora (EVERYWHERE!) is freshly cut and manicured.  The trees and bushes are all trimmed nicely.  The streets are immaculately clean.  They must have little gremlins that come out at night to landscape the island!  This is an inviting island that wants you visiting it again and again. Everywhere that you look invites you to come back again.  The houses and apartment buildings are colorful, clean and modern looking - all with an inviting character.  It is probably the most pleasant place to roam freely on this cruise....taking nothing away from Santorini and Mykonos.  But when you think about Rhodes and the turmoil it has gone through over the ages and being conquered over and over again by all of the cultures surrounding it on the Mediterranean perimeter, you have to admire the resiliency of these people who continue to want to live well and with pride.  It is wonderful to appreciate.  I think it is a remarkable culture there that I really cannot begin to understand.  I will leave it to all the historians out there that can maybe explain it better to me here on CC. Kusadasi - My friend recently came back from a single masted ship cruise along the Turkish coast and when I mentioned we would be docking in Kusadasi he made a face and said that it was a rundown, dirty port city in turkey.  I disagree and he was never in Kusadasi.   I think he was reading a 20 yr old travel book.  If you YouTube search Kusadasi you will see for yourself it is an area that has made itself over to be inviting to foreign tourists.  We drove through it and found Kusadasi to be clean, surprisingly modern with well manicured greenery and a comfortable sandy beach front with new restaurants and the obligatory Turkish bazaar. You want a bargain...it could be found here.  But be prepared to haggle.  Hang in there.  The Turks are good salesmen, aggressive salesmen and hard bargainers. But once you crack the veneer you open the door to some fantastic bargains.  Don't be afraid to walk away.  You may or may not get your price but around the corner is the same item you wanted originally and you start the bidding all over again.  Make it a game, don't be pressured and you can't go wrong....even if you have to walk away.  Sometimes you win by doing just that. Ephesus - An amazing ancient site with well preserved ruins including the 3 rd largest library in the ancient world outside of Alexandria and Constantinople.  There is plenty to see here.  Before September bring plenty of water with you.  It was 110 degrees when I was there last week and the heat was tough on some people.  My wife and I are both 50+ and we both made it through so I am sure most of you can also.  Just be prepared with water, light clothing, good walking shoes and a towel to wipe your face of perspiration.  Search YouTube for Ephesus and see for yourself the wonders of these ruins.  And don't forget to catch YT's Elton John 2001 concert at the Great Amphitheatre ruins at Ephesus - especially "Honky Cat" with a great 5 minute piano solo. Mykonos/Santorini - I want to lump these two beautiful islands together even though they have 2 very different landscapes.  I am sure you know a great deal about both places already but if you want to reinvigorate your knowledge of both places please do a search on YT again and you will see all you need to know about these two magnificent stops on this cruise.  I will say that there is an internet site, www.Cruisett.com/index.php, that will give you a listing of all the ships that will be in any given port when the Solstice is anchored there and the times of each ship's arrival and departure at that port.  This can be very valuable info for you especially in Santorini which is the only tendered port on this itinerary. The number of ships in any port will affect all the transportation networks of that port and will affect you debarkation times and return plans to the ship.  But a tendered port you need to pay special attention to.  Let me share my experience in Santorini with you.        The Solstice was the only ship in Santorini harbor that day.  NP, right? Wrong.  We left the ship about 9:30 AM, a leisurely time to disembark, and took a public bus to Kamari beach (bring your beach water shoes there - it is very pebbly and the stone are very hot.  The water, although beautiful, is rocky along the bottom by the shore.  At 2 PM we headed to Oia by bus for lunch and arrived at King Neptune's Restaurant overlooking the caldera...a gorgeous view, very good service and fine food.  We lingered knowing there was a 4:05 and 4.35 bus to return us to Fira for the cable car ride back down to the last tender, if need be, at 5:30PM.  Hey...if I miss the 4:05 and get nervous I have the 4:35 bus or just call a taxi, right?  Just like midtown Manhattan!  Well, we miss the 4:05 and I start to worry.  I am 20 minutes away from Fira and a 15 minute walk from the bus station to the cable cars at Fira.  At Oia's bus stop there are no taxi's to be found or radioed for.  One taxi comes at 4:25 and a family grabs it.  We wait. I know there are only about 30 taxis on Mykonos so Santorini is probably nearly as bad.  The bus comes promptly at 4:35 but wait a minute...the driver has to make an unscheduled stop and will be back in 10 minutes.  15 minutes later he arrives and we are on our way at 4:50PM.  The bus is making stops along the way and I am frantic so I place a call to Celebrity Cruises in Florida!  I know some of you are laughing now but what does one do when you are on the bus and your ship is ready to leave!  I want Celebrity to call the ship and tell them of my plight so they can hold the ship (even I am laughing now).  They can't do that.  As far as I know the only person that can do that is the port Captain whose phone number is listed on Celebrity's daily scheduling brochure...EXCEPT FOR SANTORINI!  Are you reading this Celebrity?  As I plead with them on the phone the bus pulls into the Fira bus station at 5:15PM.  Gotta go.  I hang up and jump off the bus with the Mrs.  I have 15 minutes to make the 15 minute walk to the cable car and my wife is reeling from the heat.  She can't walk anymore.  A TAXI!! happens by and we jump in - as if an angel was at the dispatcher's desk.  He leaves us a block from the cable car station as automobiles can't fit down that street.  We jump out and my wife hobbles with my help to the cable car and we fall into it.  Another couple is in the gondola ahead of us are also trying to get back to the ship and they are yelling at the cable operator to start the cable cars down!  It is now 5:25 PM and the cars start to lumber down the side of the caldera.  We all jump out at the bottom and there no tender to be seen!  But there is a small obscure boat with two Solstice crew members waiting for us and 4 other people whom, promptly show up a minute later...it is now 5:35 PM and by walkie talkie it is verified that all 2800 passenger are now accounted for...we being the last 6 to leave on the under size tender used to deliver the dry goods to the ship.  We made it.  If there was one more ship in that harbor and another 2000 people roaming the island I would be writing you this review from a chaotic and sweaty Athens airport trying to arrange an overpriced flight to Naples to catch the ship and me cussing a blue streak!  So please, do NOT make my mistake and give yourself plenty of time...especially if there are other ships in port...tender or not. Naples / Amalfi Coast / Pompeii - Pick ur pleasure.  Sorrento, Capri, Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, Pompeii or Naples.  We did mostly private tours on this cruise with people we befriended on Cruise Critic early in our planning.  Early February we started emailing each other...JSpirit, SandG, IHateClaims and Teechor...they were our core group at the beginning.  I would advise any of you reading this to hook up as early as possible with a group to tour with privately and split the expenses if that is the way you want to tour.  It gets hectic on the boards as time approaches for departure.  In this port we chose to take the ships tour to Sorrento (we made it back to Sorrento as the song promises) and Pompeii, which we missed on our last trip to Italy.  After our hair-raising experience on Santorini a few days before, you can imagine my relief just to lay back and relax knowing a ship's tour will not leave a bus full of passengers behind if it can help it.  Again, Pompeii...very hot...bring water!  Nearly all Naples tours are all day to get to these places of interest.  If you have never been to the towns mentioned above on the Amalfi Coast then that should be a priority unless you prefer the sights of the ill plagued excavated city of Pompeii.  It is quite remarkable to see it for yourself.  I think there may be a ships tour that includes both the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii.  I had friends that did a private tour along the Amalfi Coast and came back by ferry from Sorrento to Naples.  That sounds delightful and they said that they had a great time. I don't know what else to relate so I just want to tell you that I have not met anybody yet that has had a bad experience on this itinerary for the Solstice.  Everybody has had glowing comments on their experiences on the Solstice and its ports of call on this itinerary.  It was a fabulous experience and for first time cruisers as are I and my wife, we are just stunned at the quality of service, wonderful dining experiences and fun activities on the Celebrity Solstice as well the wonderful ports of call and their historical significance.  BTW, there is this little town called ROME that you will happen to leave from and return to.  Be sure to give yourself some time at the front end or back end of your cruise itinerary to enjoy the sights and Italian cuisine of Rome. One quick final anecdote.  I am visiting Rome several years back and the control addict that I am, I have tickets for everywhere (rail, musuems and venues) and reservations for opera and restaurants, in my hand, and all made by myself on the interne for an 18 days backpacking journey with my wife from Lake Cuomo, thru Venice to The Amalfi Coast and much in between.  I have my tickets for the Rome Coliseum one afternoon and as we approach the gates of the massive structure the guards start to close and lock the old venue up!  I am waving my tickets screaming that this can't be.  "Oh yes it be sir", they told me. "Big soccer game today and everybody is going home to watch it on tv, goodbye Sir".  You have got to love the Italians for their passion for life.  Well, it's like the world series of soccer in Italy that day...the national championship game, winner take all....Milan vs Rome.  Rome wins...the city goes crazy and parties all night.  The wife and I have a blast that night partying with the winning side but I missed my chance at visiting the Coliseum.  Now I got to come back again to Rome and I didn't waste my chance this time to visit the Coliseum.  We did a full guided tour.  I thought maybe if I miss it again...no big deal.  But entering and wandering through and around the interior of the Coliseum only affirms the grandeur that once was Rome and western Civilization.  I think it is the single most impressive ancient structure on this entire cruise.  If you can, don't miss visiting the Coliseum. I am not the best proof reader so please excuse any words out of place. Finally I would like to mention my cruise crew again.  Fine cuisine, ancient ruins and ship amenities are fine but the lasting impression and the intangible that always makes the difference to a successful journey are the relationships that you forge along the way.  There would be a definite hole in my entire experience on this cruise if it weren't for the friendships made before, during and after our cruise with our new friends of the "Cruise Crew" mentioned above, all wonderfully thoughtful and generous people, plus those that we came to call part of our "crew" later on....Kevin and Susan, Loretta, Lisa and Dale and their kids, along with SandG's daughter Caity, Joe and Maria and Pam and Sandy.  What an awesome group.  Thanx again to all of you for making this first time cruise experience so memorable for Susan and I.  And for the rest of you waiting your time to depart remember the words of my main cruise man, Sam....plan hard then sit back and relax because it's gonna be a hoot!  Enjoy. Ciao. GeoBill99 and PMSusan99 Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Our family had only taken 1 cruise trip before, so we were looking forward to an upscale trip on the Celebrity Solstice. The ship is absolutely spectacular. The common spaces were gorgeous! The martini bar had shaved ice on the top. The ... Read More
Our family had only taken 1 cruise trip before, so we were looking forward to an upscale trip on the Celebrity Solstice. The ship is absolutely spectacular. The common spaces were gorgeous! The martini bar had shaved ice on the top. The wine area was very comfortable. The library had plenty of books to chose from provided you were an adult (no kids books here). The service was spotty! Dinner service was not what we had expected from this cruise. Our server was very nice, but had no culinary knowledge and could not provide us with good advise on what to pick for dinner nor could he describe correctly what we were ordering. The bar service people rarely came by, so if you are having dinner at the main dining hall, bring your drink with you from one of the bars. The service at the pool was also not great. The servers rarely stopped to ask if you needed a drink, they just walked around the deck with prepared drinks not inquiring who needed something to drink. Cruise staff: we never saw the cruise director anywhere! Nor the Maitre D'. If you wanted to see the cruise director you either had to go to the theater where he presented information or watch him on tv. I found most of the crew to be rather off standish. The port shopping person was fine, but his office hours were only 5- 7 pm during the day. Cabin: Very comfortable, although there was not enough closet space to store our stuff. We had a balcony and it was perfect size for the 2 adults + 1 kid we had. The cabin staff was very friendly and helpful. Ports; We loved Santorini, Kudasai(Ephesus) and Naples. Istanbul was also fun, but we really did not have much time to see it all. There is not much to see in Delos - I would advise seeing Ephesus + AThens sites instead. Dinner/Food: The food at the dinning hall was not as good as I had expected. They only load food at Rome, so by the time you get to the 8th day the fruits are not as good anymore. Every fish entree we ordered we had to return. The chinese pork dinner was inedible - hard and tough to eat. The food at the informal dining area was ok. Pleanty of choices - not all of them good! To me there was too much to chose from yet not enough quality on any of it. Desserts were not good - except for Chocolate Ice cream and some chocolate desserts and pistachio dessert. Creme brulee was aweful! Tender Ports: When they tell you to line up for tender tickets at 9 am beware people are lining up starting at 7:30 am. We ended up waiting 1.5 hours to get off the ship in Santorini after following the advise of the cruise staff to be at the line at 9 am. Laundry - there is no self service laundry on this ship. Wait till the 9th day for a special $24.50 for a bag of laundry. Otherwise you'll end up paying $40+ to wash your undergarments. Embarcation/Disembarcation: They open the embarcation at 11 am and let you on the ship by 12. Your luggage gets delivered to your cabin by 2 pm. Disembarcation they tell you to plan flights after 11 am. You honestly can get off the boat by 7 am and make an earlier flight. We actually docked in Civitavechhia at 3 am. Other dining areas: WE HEARD THE REST OF THE RESTAURANTS IN THE BOAT WERE GREAT, BUT WE DID NOT GO TO THEM. Kids program: Had to pay for them to have dinner and lunch! I found this to be ridiculuous. We had already paid for this when we bought our tickets. Theater shows: did not see any except for the first two. We all fell asleep - not very entertaining at all. Kids teen club - my son who is 16 years old had a fabulous time hanging out with the rest of the teens. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Background: This would be my fourth cruise but first with Celebrity. Both my parents have been on 10 or more cruises and have sailed Celebrity before.We flew into Rome on July 5 to catch up on sleep before riding to Civitavecchia on July 6 ... Read More
Background: This would be my fourth cruise but first with Celebrity. Both my parents have been on 10 or more cruises and have sailed Celebrity before.We flew into Rome on July 5 to catch up on sleep before riding to Civitavecchia on July 6 to board the Solstice. We took a train from Termini Station to Civitavecchia and it was alot cheaper than taking a cab. However, the air conditioning was minimal, but there were many people on the train that were boarding the ship like us- so it was easy to make some friends!Embarkation: We arrived around 2:30 and it was like a zoo! It was quick and only took about 30 minutes to get your cards and start embarking the ship- make sure all your paper work is filled out and credit cards are verified for your sea pass acount- makes it so much quicker when in the line. Our bags were even at our door when we arrived at the cabin! very fast service!Ship Info: The ship is BEAUTIFUL and HUGE. It makes all the other cruise ships look sooo little. We stayed on the 8th floor in the aft and it was the smoothest ride I have ever felt on a ship. There was only one day I felt a little nauseous and that was because of a storm that was off the coast. Otherwise, you can not even tell your moving. The public spaces are well lit and very clean. There are a lot of bars on the ship. The Lawn Club was interesting- personally not as exciting as it was made out to be- but none the less..very different than what could be found on any other ship. The Martini Bar was ALWAYS busy but it was so much fun to watch the bartenders make drinks. TJ is the best and is absolutely hysterical. I would reccoment the Martini Flight for about 18 dollars- you can sample 6 different martinis. The Casino was always busy at the late hours. There is only one 6 dollar minimum blackjack table- which was normally always crowded. However, it was the most fun to play. Be careful about who you are playing with though. Being that you can be 18 to get into the Casino, some of the players had NO idea how to play the game how you are supposed to and in essence can really mess up a hand or two. The slot machines never seemed to pay out well- at least for me- so I stuck with Blackjack and actually did pretty well! :)The Shows- Celebrity has never been known for its shows and I can somewhat see why. The shows were not awful by any means but not that appealing to me. There was a broadway style show- the talent is amazing! However, most of the broadway songs, I did not know. The comedian was funny and there is a Cirq Du Solei Show which was a lot of fun too. It really just depends what you like in a show. Some of them are a little cheesy but the preformers are well trained and very talented! Dining- My family and I mostly ate in the main dining room at the 6:15 seating. Alot of the seats are open because most people eat in the late seating. There were alot of Europeans and alot of people from South America so they always ate later. You could tell the Americans/families were the ones that went to the early dinner- haha but overall, it was usually always busy. The food was ok- not fantastic but still had some really good entrees. I ate steak alot because the menu was not very diverse but it was still good. The food was never hot but I never had to bring it back to the kitchen to heat it back up. The wine list was really extensive and had some good choices and the sommielier was a help. The cafe' up on deck on 14 was good. There was the same food there during lunch and all, but there is sushi offered during dinner times, which was very good!We never went to any specialty restaraunts but from what I heard- you should make reservations ahead of time because it can be hard to get a table once you are on the ship. Nightlife: There was a lot of younger kids on the ship- which really suprised me. The Kids Club was usually busy- you would see them all walking around together at various times during the day. The Kids Club is closed while in port however- so sometimes the kids could be a little out of hand. The 18 and up crowd usually partied at Quasar, which was the resident club on the ship. It usually didnt get busy until about 12 and would stay open until the wee hours. Also the Martini bar is a hangout for younger adults to mid 30s and the Sky Lounge was so much fun. I really reccomend the Karaoke nights and the bands are SENSATIONAL. Disembarkation: We were literally the 2nd family off the ship and were fortunate enough to grab a taxi. All the luggage is stored according to the tags you are given at departure so it was not too hard finding them. There are only about 20 cabs in all of Civitavecchia so you need to get a hold of one as soon as you get off the ship or try and find someone to share rides with. Celebrity charges 90 a person for an airport transfer-which is RIDICULOUS..we got lucky and only payed around 180 euros to get to the airport and Rome- and that was for four people. So if you are with a family- def recomment a cab. if you are just 1 or 2 people- id suck it up and pay the transport fee because its the same price as the taxi- and at least your guaranteed Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Let me start by saying how great this site is.  It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions!  I  have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were ... Read More
Let me start by saying how great this site is.  It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions!  I  have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were first time cruisers and sailed the Med.on an 11 day cruise on July 6th. What a Beautiful Ship!  Everyone that we talked to that has cruised in the past told us this was their favorite ship and although I have no other cruising experience I have got to believe this is true.  It is very clean and modern and although It was completely booked you never felt crowded.We are a couple in our late 30's-40 and we traveled with our 11 yr. old son. One thing that I had a difficult time finding on this site were reviews that matched our age group, especially reviews from people traveling with children.  I was nervous that my son would not have many other kids to interact with but no need to worry.  There were many kids on the boat (One parent said 500, I am sure during the school year this number drops.) There were kids of all ages on the boat and my son had a wonderful time.  They have a great kids program with organized daily activities that my son enjoyed participating in on sea days. Scavenger hunts, art projects, bingo, video games, foosh ball, etc.   (They have organized activities daily but he did not participate on port days.)  There are so many things to do on the ship! There is something for every age.  We enjoyed the pool,(on sea days you do need to be there early for chairs...they go FAST) health club, and the glass show.  Try to get to at least one glass show, I thought it was so relaxing to watch...the girls are so talented and do such a nice job describing the art of glass blowing.  We thought the food was good.  We loved the crepe place (bistro on five) worth the $5.00 charge and we also loved Silk Harvest.  This was the only specialty restaraunt we ate at and were very glad we did.  The food and service were great!  We went to three shows on the cruise and enjoyed each one.  They do a great job with the shows, there is a woman who impersonates other singers that we really enjoyed...try not to miss her...very funny and talented!PORTSThis is the portion of cruise reviews that I was always most interested so I will try to be detailed and pass on useful information!Civitavechia:  We arrived at 12:00 and got right on the ship.  Took a tour and had lunch.  We stayed in Rome two days prior at the Caesar house.  Nice accomadations close to the Colloseum but a bit expessive.  We stayed at the hotel Canada Best Western two days after the cruise and this was very nice too but much less money.  We met three other couples at our hotel who were also going on the cruise.  We shared a van to the ship at a cost of 50e per couple, arranged by the hotel.Santoroni: I got up early and went down to get tender tickets.(7:30a.m.) just a few other people were down there but within half an hour people were lining up quickly, we were able to get off at 2:00. What a  Beautiful island!  We rented a car on our own and were so happy we did.  We took the cable car into Fira and rented a car from Motor Inn.  The man who helped us was so nice and gave us a map and suggestions on beaches. We spent a few hours at a beautiful beach enjoying the perfect water and black lava rock beach (our 1st)  the water is clear and so blue, it was so peaceful.  We the drove to Oia...do not miss this area...it is gorgeous!  A good place for a nice walk, cute shops and restaraunts and great picture taking.  We drove back to Fira, dropped off the car and got in the line for the cable car (allow plenty of time for this.)  A great peaceful day.Mykonos: Another beautiful island and another rental car!  Once again we were so happy we rented a car.  We took the bus transfer into town and tried to find the car rental place, we ended up taking a taxi to the rental place and did not know that they (the car rental place)  would have had a car waiting for us at the port.  If you think you want to rent a car book it in advance and have it waiting.  It will save you time and the expense of not needing the bus transfer.  We rented a jeep from Kosmos.  The man who helped us was fantastic, very accomadating with suggestions and when we dropped off the jeep they drove us to the port so we did not need to use the bus transfer.  We walked around Mykonos and then drove down some narrow winding roads to Super Paradise! WOW!  This place is great...I could spend a few days there.  Beach chairs/umbrellas for rent with an outdoor restaraunt/bar.  We loved this beach!  We wished we had started for the beach earlier and spent more time here.Istanbul:  What a unique city.  We decided to do this on our own and had no problems.  The only time we needed Lira was for subway tokens, so be prepared with a bit of Lira before you purchase tokens, we just got a bit of money at the cash machine in the subway and then purchase our tokens.  Using the subway was not difficult at all, a bit crowded at 7:00p.m. (this is there rush hr.) otherwise not an issue.  We went to the Topkapi Palace and also purchased tickets for the Harem rooms.  I really enjoyed the tour of the Harem rooms.  (On a side note, there is a vendor who sells icecream a little walk before you get into the Topkapi Palace.  The icecream there is made with a product that allows it to stretch a bit and when you get a cone he does a little show..flips the cones, etc. my son loved this.) We went to the Grand Bazaar after the palace and although I am glad we saw it, it was way to much for me.  You get approached constantly asking "Where are you from?" to start a conversation and everyone wants to sell you there rugs, jewelry, etc. not at all relaxing.  We planned to eat in Istanbul for dinner but we were all so tired we went back to the ship and had dinner on the boat.  The next morning we took the Subway back to Haghia Sophia (gorgeous) and then went to the Spice Bazaar.  This was much more enjoyable.  People aren't as aggressive and we were able to purchase a few souveneirs.Ephesus:  We loved our day in Ephesus! This port is very nice and clean and has nice shopping (including a starbucks) right at the dock.  We arranged a private tour with Ekol travel.  A very sweet girl named Phylis (hope I spelled her name right) was waiting for us with our last name on a sign.  I knew it was going to be a great tour when I saw her smiling face and her bright red hair...she was great and gave us so much insight into the lives of people from the area. There was a driver who took us in a van while Phylis would give us history/information on the way to our tours.  We were so happy to have this private tour...many times you see large numbers of people following someone with a paddle.  I am not saying that these aren't good tours too but for the same cost you can do your own private tour and have someone answer all your questions and stop when you want to look a bit longer, etc.  I think it is a great way to see a port and learn more about the people who live there. We went to the ruins of Ephesus and toured the terrace houses.  This is a must!  This was an amazing tour.  We never went to Mary's house but many people on the ship said the same thing about that.  We drove to a little village called Sirince where local women made products and sell them, along with other vendors, on the streets.  We ate lunch there and did a bit of shopping, this was a very enjoyable stop.  On the way back to the ship Phylis gave my husband the name of a place to have a Turkish Bath. My son and I did some shopping in the port while my husband had his turkish bath..he was glad he tried it.  Athens: This is another port that we did on our own.  We used the subway system (which was the most confusing public transportation we used...it isn't impossible but you make 3 transfers to get to the Acropolis) We took a taxi back which cost 8e (on the way out of the port they wanted 25e, taxi drivers are hoping to pick people up at a higher cost...ask before you get in....once you are away from the port it is much cheaper.) We walked around the Acropolis, went into the beautiful new museum and walked around the Plaka...all this is in easy walkable distance of one another.Naples:  We booked a private tour with AP tours.  We had another wonderful day with our driver/tour guide Victorio.  He was very charming and sweet and always asked if we wanted more time for sights or if we wanted to stop to take a picture, etc. On the drive he would give us lots of information on the people from the area, tourism, the cost of living in the area, he was very easy to talk to and we enjoyed his company.  We started our tour with Pompeii. Victorio dropped us off and told us he would be waiting.we decided that 2 hrs. would be sufficient. (There is absolutely no way to see all the ruins in 2 hrs. but we also knew we wanted to see the Amalfi Coast and honestly we were a bit "ruined out".  We got to see about 1/3 of the ruins...it is a large area...and we were fine with that. Some people may want to make an entire day of this and then you would want to look into touring just Pompeii.)  We then took off on a lovely drive to Positano...what a beautiful little town on the cliffs of the Amalfi coast. The Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful and I am so glad we saw it.  We did a bit of shopping and walking around and then we drove to the top of a cliff and ate at a fantatic Italian restaraunt called La Tagliata...if you go bring your appetite. They keep bringing food and it is all delicious!  After lunch we drove to Sorento and walked around the town a bit...also a beautiful area.  Victorio then drove us to the Hydrofoil in Sorento and we took it back to the Ship.  A Super day!  Another option to this...our table mates had seen Pompeii so they weren't doing a tour.  They took the Hydrofoil from Naples to Capri and had a wonderful relaxing day.  It would be impossible to do all these things so it is important to decide what is most important and plan from there.  Maybe we will be lucky enough to visit Capri at another time!No matter what you choose to do during your port days you will have a great time.  This is a beautiful Cruise and I hope your trip is as enjoyable experience...it is a trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
We have just returned from a really great cruise on the Solstice and the overall experience was very good. We are quite experienced cruisers and have travelled on P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Each cruise ... Read More
We have just returned from a really great cruise on the Solstice and the overall experience was very good. We are quite experienced cruisers and have travelled on P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Each cruise line has its own individual 'flavor'. This year our cruise was from Rome so we decided to stay 2 days in Civitavecchia. I chose the Hotel Miramare and was not disappointed. It was situated in a great location right on the sea front and just steps away from some lovely restaurants and the market. We had a suite as there is my husband and I and our teenage son. The rooms were simple and clean and the walk to the port even with suitcases was not to strenuous. We boarded the Solstice at lunchtime. Its a lovely ship with great amenities including a fabulous gym. Our son really enjoyed the teen area and hanging out with new friends. We had made friends with some people on our Celebrity Connections thread and arranged to meet them - we had a wonderful time together and dined with them most nights. The cabin was, we feel, the best designed one we have had. Even with the pullman bed out it was easy to walk round and was perfectly spacious for all three of us. The bathroom had been ingeniously designed and had loads of storage space and the cabin storage was fine too. The bars we used were great of particular note was the Martini Bar with its great performing barmen and also the bar outside the Murano restaurant which had a lovely atmosphere. We dined in the Murano restaurant one night and were extremely impressed. Although there is an additional cover charge for this it is well worth it, the food was excellent (my lobster was out of this world!) but my advice is don't be tempted to fill up on bread before hand because the portions are very generous The food in the main dining room was a little disappointing and tended to be on the luke warm side at times, however, we made a comment to the Maitre D' about this and the service after that was much better, however, I would say the quality of the food was not quite up to the standards we have come to expect from Celebrity. We used the Oceanview Cafe for lunch and breakfast and were very impressed with the facilities and quality/choice of food here. We did play croquet on the lawn area and watched the hot glass show, both very enjoyable. Also the shows put on by the Celebrity theatre were very good particularly the one with the trapeze artists. There was also a late night comedian in the Celebrity Central venue and he was really funny. One thing we did miss was and outside deck party with a buffet. They did put on a deck party but there was no food and it just seemed to lack the fun that we had had on previous Celebrity cruises. Embarkation and Disembarkation was stress free. All in all we had a lovely cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
This was my first mega-ship experience, after 4 prior cruises on mid-to large size ships with Royal Caribbean and Carnival. In general, Solstice is beautiful with modern decor and well designed to manage the number of passengers - ... Read More
This was my first mega-ship experience, after 4 prior cruises on mid-to large size ships with Royal Caribbean and Carnival. In general, Solstice is beautiful with modern decor and well designed to manage the number of passengers - except for the pool areas, which were quite crowded on sea days and full of kids. Forget looking for a deck chair after 8 am.I am in my mid-40s, and traveled with my parents, also veteran cruisers, and we all felt that Celebrity missed badly with food in the main dining room. Also, we were not able to be seated with the rest of our party of 8, even though we had booked the cruise 6 months in advance; at embarkation, I discovered that I had been assigned a table separate from my parents and the rest of our party. I was able to get a table for 4 seated with them, but unsuccessful in resolving the request to be seated with the others. The best they could do was to have us seated on the same side of the upper dining room floor, which wasn't much, considering there was a wall between us. Our service in the main dining room was excellent, we received our food first and from our vantage point in the far corner were able to see that it took quite some time to serve the rest of the room. Some offerings were good, but most fell into the average category; portions were adequate. The number of entrees, appetizers, and desserts was limited compared with previous cruise experiences, and not in keeping with Celebrity's positioning as a "premium" cruise line. For instance, meat loaf was on the menu one night, and chicken fettucini another. Not exactly special fare!  Filet showed up once, although strip steak was available every day. The wine list was extensive, although prices tended to be high, I was able to find some good values from Italy and with less familiar varietals. We enjoyed the food in the Oceanview Cafe and were able to quickly figure out when the most crowded times were and managed to avoid them. We also ate at Murano one night and that was the best meal of the trip, but it was an extra $30 per person upcharge. The best value came from Bistro on Five, at $5 per person. The crepes and salads were fresh and tasty.Our cabin was Concierge Class, and on deck 11 aft. It was quiet at night, but noisy during the day as it bordered a hallway lined with service cabinets for the room attendents. You could tell when they came on duty each morning between 6 and 7am. Our room attendents were fast and efficient. Disappointingly, we had a problem with items being removed from the minibar when we were absent from the room. I complained twice with Guest Relations and asked to have the minibar locked, with no response and a total of ~$23 charged to my account by the end of the cruise. Our cabin door was difficult to close and you had to pull hard from the outside to lock it - twice during the trip we came back to the cabin to find it ajar. No personal items were missing but we were very careful to use the safe and ensure all valuables were locked away. The only advantage to Concierge Class that I could see was room location, being on a high deck and away from the atrium staircases. The afternoon canapes were a CC item, but one that I wouldn't recommend. Our veranda was slightly larger as we had the last cabin before the stern, which was nice, but it had a partially obstructed view to the rear. The spa was totally disappointing. The staff seemed rushed and the treatments I had (pedicure, facial, massage) were treated as an opportunity for them to do hard selling to buy more expensive options and products. Not the relaxing experience I was expecting, and overall, not worth the prices charged. I hope Aqua Class guests received better service. One bright spot was the Corning Glass show - definitely a must-see. Get there early for a good seat. The Lawn Club seemed a waste of deck space. And we hated the fact that a smoking section was located on Deck 12 just prior to the Solarium entrance on the AquaSpa Cafe side. Smoke floated into the Solarium and made it difficult to reach the "healthy alternative eating" at the Cafe (which was suprising good, but too small and hours of operation limited).Entertainment was modest. The Broadway review on the first formal night was nicely done. Public areas and the many bars were thoughtfully designed. We enjoyed Michael's Club and the Passport Lounge for pre or post dinner drinks. The Martini bar was always crowded ($10 each). Drinks were inconsistent, some evenings well made, other times not. Finally, the reason we chose this cruise was the number of ports and price paid. We enjoyed our trip and had a great time seeing the sights, and did a mix of ship tours and independent. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
My daughter and I did just spend a very enjoyable 10 nights on Solstice to start June. a fine cruise, although not everything was seamless, of course. For example, I can't understand why Celebrity had me fill out all those online ... Read More
My daughter and I did just spend a very enjoyable 10 nights on Solstice to start June. a fine cruise, although not everything was seamless, of course. For example, I can't understand why Celebrity had me fill out all those online forms (for credit card usage, for allowing my daughter to drink, etc.) and then turned around and made me fill them all out again when we checked in. Just a minor irritant, but it seemed so avoidable unless they had lost their online data (which they then could have admitted).I can say overall I was very impressed with the ship and its crew. The public spaces may have been less in the "I'm aboard a ship" style, but they were gorgeous. The stateroom was beautiful plenty large enough, designed to make the most of the space. My first reaction was to immediately unpack all our bags into the closet and drawers, since ten nights at sea spelled "home" to me, unlike the vast majority of my land vacations. This is certainly the feeling the ship would like to inspire, as we were always welcomed back after a long, hot day of excursions with a cold drink, an iced towel and, "Welcome home!" I must say, it worked for me, as I did feel like I had come home when I returned to the ship.More specific critiques. I have little but praise for our room steward. Top notch. We did get a couple unexpected entries into the room while there, one when we probably would have been expected to be elsewhere, one when the "Do Not Disturb" sign was very much in place (although this wasn't our normal steward). The whole logistics involved in taking care of all those staterooms must be a science in itself. The same must be said for dining. The Grand Epernay is obviously an example of scientifically controlled mayhem—two shifts of dining on two different floors, yet there was never a feeling of "crowd control" except the first night when everyone needed to find their seat assignments. Dining was one of the few places where you realized that their were enough passengers onboard to populate a fair-sized town, but approaching our table was always a matter of avoiding the rapidly-scurrying wait staff, not being caught in a queue of fellow travelers. Because of the marvelous job with crowd flow, it is a testament to their work that the primary criticism of the dining experience has been somewhat less-than-hot entrEes. Yes, I agree, I would very much prefer not having to send food back for reheating, but I wasn't aghast. (I think it was more telling the first night when the crème brûlEe really should have just been called custard, since they obviously didn't have the time to melt the sugar on top of what could be a thousand or so identical desserts.) I must say, unlike some other reviews, we had the most wonderful wait staff, with personable, attentive servers who attended to the table promptly and never seemed overly delayed in the delivery of the next course. The one more serious issue. As a first timer, I did go to Customer Relations several times with questions. Early on when returning my Disembarkation Questionnaire, I was told they had been informed that there would be no train service from Civitavecchia when we returned after the cruise. And no taxis in town (well, maybe five or six). But we can sell you very high-priced city transfers, so get it quickly so you will be able to return to Rome. OK, I grumbled and paid up. Later at dinner, our dinner companions, who also planned to go by train, had no knowledge of this rather important situation and cast doubt on its veracity. So off the Customer Relations again—where they told me that everyone had either been personally informed, or they had a message waiting for them in their room. Oh, OK. The next evening? Our companions had still heard nothing, which really concerned me, so we started plotting our own shared ride. When I approached Customer Relations again with this news, they admitted they'd gotten it wrong and that the trains would run as usual. Unfortunately I have the feeling I wouldn't have been told this, but would have been allowed to take the expensive, inconvenient transfer instead. And so I cancelled my transfers. Or so I was told, until I returned to Customer Relations with a later bill where the charges still remained. This time they told me I needed to bring in my purchase paperwork to cancel the order—but again, I would not have been told this. I wasn't too happy about it this time, which prompted the attendant to make a joke about getting the previous person fired, which I thought REALLY hit a wrong note. So long story short: Celebrity, you need to work seriously on communications, especially when it involves shifting information about something of rather vital importance.Other admittedly nit-picking items. 1) The library was a very nice place to read, but what thrift store did they visit to stock the shelves? I'm not asking for a comprehensive library, but having old encyclopedia year books and the third books in trilogies without the first two (yes, I checked on the first day) made it appear the library was just a pretty prop. It does seem that, if you are going to do it, you want to do it right. 2) About the same with the game room: a nice space, but after the first day all the playing cards were gone as well as any popular board games—my daughter wanted Scrabble so I guess we were supposed to grab it that first night, as it never reappeared again—so maybe someone should be assigned to keep the room stocked? 3) The TV interactive information system for Ship Location was worthless. Why show GPS location on a stylized map with an unlabeled single line designating a coastline? I was looking forward to keeping track of our course, knowing what islands we were passing, essentially visualizing where we were in the Mediterranean. I had to track down the Atlas in the library to make a guess. How about a basic contract with Google Maps? Favorites. I'll only bring up the spaces we used most. Top location? The Solarium, with a nice pool and jacuzzi, a fountain and quiet music. I would have liked the cruise to go longer just to lounge here. Best lounge? The Sky Observation Lounge, especially when the music didn't get too loud. Alternate dining? We only tried the Bistro on Five, which did make very good crepes, so I would recommend it. We also ate plenty in the Oceanview Cafe, which had very satisfying buffet food (and gave us the ice cream and pizza we needed after excursions as a snack before dinner!). And I have to make a plug for the Fortunes Casino, since I did win a fair amount—some of the crew were a bit inexperienced at the craps table so you had to watch your payoffs, but I didn't come expecting Vegas.OK, enough said. I feel like my negatives stand out more than my positives, but in fact they were the small details in the midst of a most pleasant experience. I will want to do this again, perhaps with an itinerary that is not so port-of-call heavy so I can relax in the Solarium more often ... Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2009
My wife and I have been regular cruisers with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.  We typically like their ships, the itineraries, concierge class and the service.We recently took a 10 day cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean which started in ... Read More
My wife and I have been regular cruisers with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.  We typically like their ships, the itineraries, concierge class and the service.We recently took a 10 day cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean which started in Rome.  It was the outset of this trip that caused us the most grief and I hope we can save others from the same predicament.  We purchased the transfers from Celebrity to/from the pier in Civitavecchia, Italy.  Celebrity personnel met us at the airport and we were going to carry on small bags onto the bus when a Celebrity rep told us there was no storage for small bags on the bus.  Therefore, we had to put cabin tags on the small bags and Celebrity transported them directly to the ship and then to our cabin.  We checked our bags with Celebrity around 9:30AM.At 3PM all but one of our bags was delivered to our cabin.  The last bag ended up showing up 30 minutes later.  When my wife opened it she could tell it was ransacked.  Items were opened (but not stolen), but we found that our camera had been stolen.  They left the camera bag and instruction booklet.  My wife immediately went down to Guest Relations who made her fill out a "Personal Property Report".  When she was leaving the Guest Relations desk she ran into some people we met on the same bus from the Rome airport.  They were standing in line to also file a theft report.  Seems they had a laptop computer and other items stolen.In retrospect, I wish we would have arranged transportation to/from the pier other than what was offered by Celebrity.  Transportation where our bags would not have left our sight.  Looking back on it I have to say it was a little odd that the Celebrity rep at the airport told us there was no room on the bus for small carry on bags.  The buses had storage underneath and we could have very easily stored them there, but the rep did not tell us this.  Perhaps the Celebrity reps were in on the whole theft scheme?Our suggestion to you is to arrange your own transportation that is NOT through Celebrity.  Make sure you have control of your bags.  If you choose to take Celebrity transportation to/from the airport make sure you refuse for them to take your smaller carry on bags.  Tell them that you want it stored under the bus.  This might save you the same aggravation that we went through.  Consequently, we have no photos of this wonderful cruise. And, it seemed as if Guest Relations on the ship could give a shxt about the theft.  We had to ask for a signed copy of the Personal Property Report four times before we received one.  This whole situation caused my wife and I to decide that we will no longer sail Celebrity or Royal Caribbean Cruises.  We like the product, but we don't like the way they treated frequent customers, therefore, we'll take our business elsewhere.The Solstice was a very nice ship.  It was carrying more than 3000 passengers on our trip, but you could never tell it.  The only time you knew it was crowded was on "at sea" days and it was very difficult to get a lounge chair outside.I have to agree with other reviews that the food was not as good as previous Celebrity cruises that we've taken, but it was certainly acceptable.  The menus are the things that have become strange like serving meat loaf and spaghetti & meatballs.  But there are all kinds of other options if you don't want to eat in the dining room.  For example, you can have the same menu as the dining room delivered to your cabin if you want to eat there.  Just give them enough notice on what you want and the time you want it delivered.  You can eat in the Oceanview Cafe on deck 14 which offers a good variety of food choices.  Or, you can pay extra money to eat at one of the 4 "cover charge" restaurants that are onboard.  Trust me, you won't go hungry.Our concierge class cabin (2107) was on deck 12 and it was in a great location.  Our cabin attendant was outstanding as usual, we always had fresh fruit in our cabin and snacks prior to dinner each night.  I think they've upgraded the mattresses in concierge class along with the bath towels.  We had a very large veranda and the cabin was plenty large. They did a great job in sound proofing the cabins, too.We found the entertainment to be good, but realize that Celebrity was never known for outstanding entertainment.  I read some other reviews about the entertainment being poor, but we found it to be good.  There are lots of things going on throughout the day if you want to take advantage of it ... or ... you can just kick back and relax.The Lawn Club on the top deck was fascinating.  You're able to play Bocchi ball, ring toss or practice your putting skills.  The glass blowing show is up there, as well, and that proved to be one of the most popular things onboard.All in all, it's a gorgeous ship and lots of places for you to explore once you're onboard. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
This was my 13th cruise ship so I'd say I'm a veteran cruiser now. My wife and I started cruising with Carnival first and then branched off to try Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and finally decided to stick with Royal ... Read More
This was my 13th cruise ship so I'd say I'm a veteran cruiser now. My wife and I started cruising with Carnival first and then branched off to try Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and finally decided to stick with Royal Caribbean for the majority of our cruises until trying this new Celebrity ship. We're glad we did and now we're big fans! The Celebrity Solstice is an amazing ship and I'd have to rate it as well above any we've tried before. I typically pick either very large (over 100K ton) or very new ships and this one fit both bills. I'm glad they're building more Solstice-class because I'll be looking to cruise on one of her sister vessels in coming years. It's a very clean, bright, and airy ship. The use of glass throughout, the different types of seating (hammocks?!) on the decks, the lawn, and just the general design made it feel very open, inviting, modern (not too trendy) and relaxing. The staff was friendly and I can't say enough about the food - excellent! We decided to try their new Aqua Class staterooms (AQ). Essentially, it's a balcony room but you get some added perks to make your experience feel a bit higher-class (it worked too). In our stateroom when we arrived at the ship there was a bottle of Champagne on ice, fresh fruit and bottles of water (not sure if these were for AQ passengers only?). Each day our stateroom was restocked with a couple more bottles of water which my wife and I took with us on excursions each day. There had nice robes and hemp slippers that my size 12 feet had no chance of fitting (must be European sized?!). We were also given a gift during the cruise - a Celebrity shopping bag. The website mentioned the Hansgrohe shower head but other than the novelty of it, we played with it once and then turned off the 4 body-jets and just used it like any other shower. One of the exclusive perks for AQ class passengers was that you eat in a smaller, quaint restaurant called "Blu". The restaurant is next door to two extra-cost specialty restaurants. Our table was near the concierge's desk and we saw several people request entry and even offer to pay an extra fee but they were all politely turned away. The ship is pretty serious about maintaining the exclusivity of the restaurant. As noted earlier I think I'm a seasoned cruiser and one factor was usually consistent - I've typically gained anywhere from 7-10 lbs. I'm happy to report that this was the very first cruise I've ever taken where I didn't gain any weight! The gourmet portions were right-sized (not served on a platter) and even though it was available (and often encouraged) I didn't order second (or third) servings of any entrEes as I've done in the past and I never went hungry. With the healthy, lean foods, exercising in their great gym, and the active excursions, it all added up to a net gain of zero pounds - THAT was amazing to me! I wasn't starving myself or even trying to do anything special (except not eat myself into a coma) and I came out the same way I went in. In addition to the restaurant, there was a special glass-enclosed Spa relaxation lounge at the front of the ship available to AQ passengers. There was always soft meditation music, fresh ice water w/ fruit, and it's well off the beaten path. The times my wife and I went in there I only saw one other person so it truly was a relaxing location for those times when you wanted to avoid the masses. We (and lots onboard) loved the Martini Bar. There is also a nightclub onboard but it seemed to attract the younger 18+ crowd on our cruise and the karaoke lounge was a hit-or-miss. The 35-55 crowd congregated at the Martini Bar. We met a lot of interesting people but thanks to the "sampler" I kept ordering I don't quite remember any of them ;-) The drinks were good but the watching the skilled bartenders was just as much fun (ever seen Tom Cruise in the movie "Cocktail"?). So if you ever get a chance to sail the Celebrity Solstice or the Equinox then you've got to give it a shot - they're truly beautiful, unique ships. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
My husband and I were traveling with my 2 older sisters.  We have been on many cruises, but this was the first time that we had sailed with Celebrity and for the most part we were extremely pleased with the experience.   The Solstice ... Read More
My husband and I were traveling with my 2 older sisters.  We have been on many cruises, but this was the first time that we had sailed with Celebrity and for the most part we were extremely pleased with the experience.   The Solstice was a new ship that had only been out a couple of times before our cruise, so it still had the sparkle that a lot of the older ships seem to lose after being in service for a while.  We got to Rome a couple of days before we were scheduled to depart and stayed at the Eurostars International Palace in Rome.  We were pleased with the hotel.  The rooms were pretty good size for a European Hotel and it was central to most of the sites we wanted to see, with convenient transportation to everything else.We checked out of the hotel in the morning and got to Civitavecchia around noon.  We were able to check in.  The process went very smoothly.  There were 10-15 people checking the passengers in, so there was almost no wait time.  They said that the rooms would not be ready until 1:30pm so we went to lunch.  As you walked into the Lido Buffet, there was a crewmember standing there with hand sanitizer, making sure everyone used it before they went in to eat. (This was consistent through the whole trip at all of their restaurants).  We really appreciated this since we were cruising just after the swine flu "epidemic" began.  It was the first time that we have been on a cruise that one of us didn't come back with a cold.   We did not book any excursions through the Celebrity Solstice.  We booked all private tours  just for the 4 of us before we left.   They were not only cheaper than the ones Celebrity offered, they were more flexible and built the tour according to how much time we wanted to spend at a site. On a couple of the tours, we actually changed parts of the itinerary as we went along. Things we liked about the cruise:The food was really good most of the time.  The only time we had issues with it was once or twice at night in the Oceanview Cafe.  They didn't have a lot of variety and sometimes it was cold. I think they wanted to encourage you to go to the dining room.  The food in the dining room was excellent.  We never had a bad meal there. The cabin attendants were awesome.  They always seemed to be on duty.  I don't know when they slept but they seemed to be available to us 24/7.  The waiters were also incredible.  They seemed to anticipate your every need.  The acupuncturist, Grace was very knowledgeable and was worth every penny I spent.  In general the whole staff was very good. The ship itself was beautiful and very clean.  It was easy to find your way around on the ship, which says a lot since I tend to get lost easily on cruise ships.  If you did get turned around, all of the crew were very knowledgeable and helpful in directing you to the right area. Things we didn't like:The ATM machines ran out of money about 3-4 days before the end of the cruise.  That in itself was bad enough but the front desk kept telling people that it was unable to get the signal when they were close to shore.  Of course after 2 days when it still didn't work we realized it was more than the signal.  One of the front desk crew finally told us that it was out of money and there was no way to fill it until the end of the cruise.  Unfortunately the others were still telling people that it was the signal until the day we disembarked.  They only had 2 ATM's on board for 3800 people. The meal times - They were 6:15 and 8:45.  The first one was too early, the last one too late.  We had the later time but switched half way through the cruise.  If you had the late dining, the show didn't start until 11pm  which was hard if you were going out the early the next day (10pm would have been fine).  Their shows were not attended well at all and I think part of it was their weird dinner times.  Everyone complained about that. The photographers were not as active as some of the cruises we have been on.  In fact we didn't even know that they were taking pictures at the dinner tables until several days in the cruise. Even on formal night, they still didn't take pictures of everyone in the dining room. They just seemed to do one side of the room and then left.  We are used to them being much more involved with the guests activities. Even though there were a few minor annoyances, It was a really good cruise, probably one of the best we have been on. We would definitely sail again on the Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
We have just returned from a family vacation on the Celebrity Solstice and we are all still talking to each other! The trip consisted of my husband and I, two teenagers and my In-law's. The crew on the ship could not have been more ... Read More
We have just returned from a family vacation on the Celebrity Solstice and we are all still talking to each other! The trip consisted of my husband and I, two teenagers and my In-law's. The crew on the ship could not have been more friendly. They always had a smile on their face and genuinely willing to help you with anything. First the check in was the most efficient check in process we have ever had on a cruise. No problems at all and no waiting in line. My husband and I were in an Aqua Class cabin (1523). Our room was very spacious, lots of useable storage space. We had 2 extra large suitcases and they both fit under the bed along with another carry on size suitcase. The bathroom was a nice size. Our veranda had two chairs with foot rest and a table. We had coffee there every morning. Our room was toward the front. We only had movement a couple times during the cruise but the water was a little rough and even down on the 4th and 5th floors towards the middle it was moving a little. Not enough movement for motion sickness unless you are really sensitive. Our cabin steward was Marco and I don't know how he did it but our room was cleaned every time we left! Our teenagers had an inside cabin on the same floor (1532). We thought this room would be across from us but the door to it is actually on the other side of the hall. It was ok for us because our children are 15 and 17 but if you had smaller children this would not work. I did not notice much difference in size of the room or the bathroom. It was just missing the veranda and some of the amenities were a little better in our Aquaclass room. I did enjoy having a lighted make-up mirror and hair dryer that was almost full size. The jetted shower in AQ class was nice too after a long day of sightseeing. But, all the rooms had the necessary toiletries (shampoo, conditioner,lotion, cotton balls, q-tips) and hairdryers. My in-law's had a regular balcony room (7247). Their balcony was a little bigger because it was located on the part of the ship that jogs out a little. Very private though no one else could see onto the balcony. The lifeboats were below them but did not obstruct their view in any way. Because we were in AQ class we were supposed to eat in Blu every night. We did the first night but then got moved to the main dining room so we could be with our family. That was bitter sweet! The food in Blu was much better than the dining room. We felt it was more important to be with our family than to eat well. The dining room was probably our biggest disappointment. The food was fine just not as good as other cruise ships we have been on. The staff was great but the food was a little lacking. The food at the Oceanview Cafe was better than the food in the dining room. In talking to others on board the food at Blu was the best. The coffee and tea onboard was wonderful. Wine prices were reasonable. We spent a lot of time in the Cellar. Great wine bar! Also, don't miss the ice bar for some great martini's.  We did not do a tour of Santorini or Mykonos. We spent the day just walking around and shopping. I would suggest the cable car vs the donkey in Santorini! Also, don't miss the sunset on Santorini. It is most beautiful. We did private tours in Istanbul and Ephesus. We used Ekol travel. Nur with Ekol was great to work with and very professional. Our tour guide in Istanbul was Ezel. She was absolutely fantastic. She was right there waiting for us as we left the gangway. Not only did we get a great 2 day tour with Ezel she arranged for us to have dinner in Istanbul the night the ship was docked there. That turned out to be the most fun night on our cruise. Our reservation was at the Kalamar Restaurant. The restaurant  picked us up at the port and took us to the fish market district. We had a fantastic dinner. The food was excellent. I recommend the Salt Encrusted Sea Bass. We even had belly dancers come around to our table. It seemed to be an area that the locals gather after work. A lot of fun and a beautiful area. When we were done the restaurant took us back to the ship. The shuttle to and from the restaurant was free but we of course gave them a good tip. Thank you Ezel. Our tour in Ephesus was also through Ekol. Our tour guide was Sky. She must be the most patient person ever and very fun! When you do the tours in Ephesus make sure you see the Terrace Houses. They were just opened to the public in the last 2 years and they are unbelievable. We also went rug shopping and Sky never made us feel rushed. She took us to two different places. We fell in love with a rug from Ege Hali. We have been to Istanbul and Ephesus before and we bought a silk rug back in 2000 in Ephesus. So we are familiar with several different carpet venues. The people at Ege Hali were really genuine and trustworthy. I have their contact info if anyone would like to have it. My in-laws did a ship tour of Athens. They were not impressed with the Athens tour. They couldn't hear the tour guide, the guide didn't explain what they were seeing very well and they got separated from the group due to the caos around the Acropolis. However we all did a tour of Sorrento and Pompeii with the ship and it was great. It all depends on the tour guide you have. I'm not sure who the ship used for the tour guide in Athens but they used Aloschi Brothers for the Sorrento and Pompeii tour and our guide, Hakim was great. He offered great stories and was very funny. Loved the tour of the farm in Sorrento where they make mozzarella and lemoncello. When you are getting back on the ship after being on shore the crew is there with cold towels to wipe your face and hands off, cold water or juice to drink and hand sanitizer. It's the small things!! Back to the ship....we were not fans of the lawn club. Personally I think they should use that space for more chairs to lay out in and another pool area. The show on the last evening was really good, similar to Cirque du Soleil. It would have been nice to have more shows like that on the ship. Our teenagers stayed busy at the X club and playing basketball. They both meet some other kids their age and hung out at night and days at sea. The pools shut down at 8 which I think is early especially if the kids want to swim but I think most cruise ships do this for safety reasons. The gym is nice. We only used it 3 times but good space and machines. My husband and I missed the champagne brunch but my mother in law said it was magnificent. We had a great time on the Solstice. It is beautiful and designed well. We will definitely sail with Celebrity again. I think our next one might be on Azamara without the kids though!  Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
Embarkation.All went perfectly from arriving at Rome airport to being in our stateroom.Ports.All very nice but very tiresome when you get the same old shops selling the same old things in nearly every port, We did the Turkish Towns and ... Read More
Embarkation.All went perfectly from arriving at Rome airport to being in our stateroom.Ports.All very nice but very tiresome when you get the same old shops selling the same old things in nearly every port, We did the Turkish Towns and Villiages which was a very nice excursion and also the Corinthian Canal trip which was again very good, Mykanos was a nightmare with 3 ships in port and about 5000 people milling around such small streets but a lovely place all the same as was Santoirini which was again busy with only 2 ships in god knows what it's like when more ships are in port, at least one hour queing for cable car to top.Scicily, Peraus,Naples, all very dirty and graffiti everywhere but most cities these days are like this.Dining Experience.Although the food in the Epernay was in the most good quality we found it was constantly cold or at best warm, we as a table of 8 repeatedly told the waiters who did take meals away and return them when hot but often other table mates had finished there course and then had to wait for others to finish before next course was brought, compred to previous cruises on RCI our waiters were too quiet had no interaction with them apart from taking our order and putting it on the table, no recommendations re menu items on any nights from either waiter or his assistant, we saw the maitre d once on first night and once night before we left, just in time for her to be in our minds for her tips is my guess or am i a sinic, We ate in the Murano twice and it was very good and the food was hot which was a nice bonus, the goats cheese suffle was amazing and the surf and turf excellent, we didn't try the others but were told Tuscan grille was very good also.Seaview Cafe was also ok with something for everyone, you won,t starve.Cabin;This was on deck 7 with a balcony and was very good, i like the interactive tv.Our maid was called Maria from the Phillipines and was the best we have ever had, cabin was immaculate everyday and nothing too much trouble.The ship;Although i do prefer the classic style of RCI ships compared to the very contemorary style of solstice she was still a very beutifull ship.On sea days the usual towels on sunbeds was abundant all over the top decks from 7am onwards so nothing new here.I personaly think the Lawns on the top deck are a complete waste and just a gimmick, i never saw anyone using it and more sunbeds or another pool in it's place to alleviate the sunbed issue would be better use of the space but it's not a great issue.Entertainment.Well what can i say, absoloutely appauling shows in the Solstice theater, the singers and dancers came nowhere near any shows on the 4 RCI ships and considering they are part of the same company i was very supprised, other entertainment throughout the ship was in my opinion better and we really enjoyed most of them, had some good nights in the Martini and passport bars and a special mention should go to Paul [Bob Marley]Blackwood and Antinio in the Passport bar for making our evenings very special.Overview;After 4 previous cruises on Brilliance,Jewel,Explorer & Navigator of the Seas and speaking to seasoned cruisers maybe i was expecting too much, we were told Celebrity was a notch up from RCI and the food was out this world, sevice etc outstanding, well in my opinion it didn't come close to the Brilliance which was my fav ship and i,m going on her again in march from Dubai.Maybe the credit crunch has meant a cutback in quality, i.e 4 courses instead of 5 at meal times, poor entertainment, will i sail celebrity again, maybe but probaly on a millenium class and not solstice.This was a pesonal view and i,m sure others had a fantastic service from all onboard and i was unlucky but we still had a fantastic cruise and look fwd to the next one.Out, Dave,Not Greek[those who have sailed will understand this. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
Our family of 6 (2 grandparents, 2 parents and 2 teen age kids) had a fabulous time on Solstice while traveling the Mediterranean.  We were worried about what all of us could do together and separate on this cruise and Solstice was the ... Read More
Our family of 6 (2 grandparents, 2 parents and 2 teen age kids) had a fabulous time on Solstice while traveling the Mediterranean.  We were worried about what all of us could do together and separate on this cruise and Solstice was the answer.  While my in-laws are seasoned cruisers, we had never thought about taking a cruise...ever.  This was truly a vacation to remember that met all of our needs plus some. If you are looking for a vacation that could be a great balance for varying age ranges, this itinerary and ship are it!We won't duplicate what others have written positively or negatively.  Things we found in addition to share are as follows:1.  Our kids really enjoyed the teen programming and friends that they met from all over the world.  I am sure some adults on the cruise were not as happy to see the larger number of kids on this cruise, but we did not find the kids to be rude or disrespectful when we "accidentally" ran into them (other teens) on deck.  It was great to see the kids all interacting and learning how to find their sealegs of proper socializing.  Too boot, Solstice is also great to find privacy almost at any turn.....it is an amazingly designed ship.2.  We found the sea days rather perplexing as with most cruisers for the lack of consideration by seat hogs but in addition thought people who left their used towels on the chairs without intention of returning even more rude.  You did not know if chairs were open or not without bothering the people relaxing next to them.  3.  We really enjoyed the Solarium for adult lounging, the hot tub a little cooler than US standards..but you could stay in longer!  We really loved the clam shell round lounger chairs too!  Most of the time the security assisted the under 16 youth away from the area after the first day.  4.   We greatly enjoyed meeting back up before dinner each night on our veranda for cocktails/mocktails when we could. We brought over 2 chairs from my in-laws room and sat on the veranda each night to talk about our daily excursion experiences.5.  We loved our veranda room and found it not as bad as everyone said with 4 people sharing the room.  I guess since we're newbies to cruising we did not notice the difficulty in sharing sleeping arrangements.  Plus we have a sailboat and are very efficient in our space usage in general!  The pullman and couch made a great bunkbed situation for our kids to share at night and stored nicely each morning per the room attendants.  After all, how much room do you really need at night?  I must say it did force our kids to keep their stuff organized and neat daily!  6.  We took advantage of the $29.00 coupon for laundry and that probably saved us some space issues by reducing our clothing needs for 10 days on a cruise and 6 days post cruise in Rome.7.   We did a mixture of on our own, private and Celebrity tours.  When used the public and taxi transportation at the ports we found them to be easy to use.  By using a taxi and metro in Athens, we saved a bunch in time and saw the Acropolis with virtually 100 people max in the morning!  Can't say that about my in-laws and their Celebrity tour who were there about 10am.  The best for us to recommend is to do your research and plan your excursions based on your personal needs.  My in-laws were more likely to take the Celebrity tours.  They did the Taoromina in Sicily, Athens bus tour, Santorni wine tour, Delos tour in Mykonos...all were 4 hour tours and they raved about them with the exception of Athens. We talked them into 2 private tours in Naples and Kusadasi that were absolutely unforgetable.  They were actually better for my father in-law who struggles to keep up due to his knees and "pre-cruise" unplanned hernia surgery!  The private tour bus was great for easily picking him up at the entrance of a site and sometimes half the price at the cruise tour.  The tour guides were informative and locals to the area.  Again, absolutely incredible excursions all around.8.  If you are in a large traveling group, don't be afraid to do separate port excursions.  It made for great conversations to hear what different options we experienced upon meeting up post excursion.  The lawn area became another of our favorite areas to watch Solstice leave port when all 6 of us wanted to chat and share!  9.  We had an early dinner seating per my in-laws request.  I found it to be a little too early for me as that the pools were closed each night before we finished dinner (8pm).  If we had a longer day in the port, we rushed to get to dinner at 6:15, especially for the formal nights where we wanted to look our best.  I guess both dinner seatings have their pros and cons.  If you like to swim and relax....it does make it hard to get it all in on a port intensive cruise like the Mediterranean.  I think the only time we enjoyed a louging pre-dinner dinner was when we skipped our 6:15 dinner and ate at the buffet, which BTW was really good option each time we ate there.  The kids loved the waffles for breakfast and the ice cream any time of course!10. Our last point to share, if you are going all this way to see the sites..don't hold back.  Plan to spend a little money on this trip to do it right.  Document it with pictures, notes, nice souvenirs and great conversations.  This was a trip we won't easily forget and it will be difficult to top in future vacations.  Celebrity did a great job keeping us happy.  They were not perfect, but then again none of us are.  I have to say that when we did have a concern, they addressed it quickly and if needed, corrected within minutes of being brought to their attention.  All staff seemed eager to please and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
We sailed 26 June on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise.  I did a load of research, and this was my 5th cruise.  I have sailed Princess, Carnival (twice), Disney, and now Celebrity.  The website promised a sublime experience peace, ... Read More
We sailed 26 June on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise.  I did a load of research, and this was my 5th cruise.  I have sailed Princess, Carnival (twice), Disney, and now Celebrity.  The website promised a sublime experience peace, relaxation, and luxury at fair prices.We started off on the wrong foot when our party of 8 was broken up into two tables.  My friend and her parents who I haven't seen in ages were forced to sit at a separate table.  I barely got a chance to see them at all during the cruise.  We weren't the only ones there was a line a mile long on the first day with people complaining about the same thing.  We also learned that Celebrity had opened up it's last cabins at ridiculous prices and therefore there were a lot of folks on board who didn't really fit the demographic that I believe Celebrity is trying to pursue.In reality, it was difficult to tell Celebrity apart from Carnival. The public spaces and design of the ship are stunning, but our cruise was simply overrun with children of all ages.  Kids ran wild in the pool area crowding the spas, jumping off of pool lounge chairs, and running.  At one time I witnessed a toddler eating his lunch while sitting in the pool-the tortilla chips falling to the bottom of the water.  When I complained to guest services I was told that no one really patrols the area and that it is the guest's responsibility to call in any bothersome activity (!).The food was good, not great.  The did a terrific job of cooking my steaks absolutely perfectly each time, but because the menu was so dull I ended up eating steak at least 5 times out of 10.  Some of the entrees were very tasty but nothing remarkable.  The dining room service was spotty at best.  Some tables were served efficiently, some not.  In general the dining room was not run wellour poor waiters looked like they were running a marathon during the entire service it made me nervous just to watch them.  Again, not the relaxing vacation I had dreamed of.And finally, the music in the public areas was excruciatingly loud live bands and club music, particularly on 'sea days' that you could not get away from unless you retreated to your cabin.  Thank goodness I had a balcony which was lovely.  But even in the evenings where you'd expect maybe some jazz or more mellow music, you were subjected to the "thump thump thump" of the club music.  There are 4 restaurants on board which charge a supplement (anywhere from $5 per person to $35 per person).  I personally despise this.  I would rather pay the extra $350 per person over the 10 days than have to wonder what I am missing obviously the food in the main dining room isn't as good as the restaurant cuisine.  With a 3 year old it would have been tough to do and on principle I refused to visit.  I was told that the food was excellent my question was then, "why can't the food in the dining room be like that?"  Or, if the quality of the food depends on serving lower volumes (which I suspect it does), then offer me the opportunity to visit these restaurants a couple of times during the cruise, and charge me for it. In general there was a nickle and dime atmosphere everything from the spa trying to upsell me or get me to buy their products, to the tacky display of gold necklaces sold by the inch poolside, the day we were at sea.Some staff were friendly and jovial, others looked quite unhappy.  Very spotty service. Instructions on any number of things (embarking, disembarking, luggage, etc).  We often didn't know what to do.The Oceanside buffet was fantastic.  I have to say that they did a wonderful job with variety and freshness.  The entertainment was also top notch.The final blow was dealt shortly after disembarking when we discovered that one of our bags were missing.  I was particularly upset because it was a smaller pullman which we could have easily taken ourselves and had seen others doing.  This was not made clear to us, and now we are without our bag (still).In closing, the cruise was OK but I can't help but feel that Celebrity has a long way to please folks like me who expect serenity, luxury, and service and who are willing to pay for it.  I thought that my search for the perfect cruise would be over with this vacation, but now I know I still have a long way to search. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
This was my 11th cruise and Celebrity blew me away with their spectacular service and beautiful ship.  We arrived in Rome at 8:30 am on the day of the cruise.  We took Celebrity's "Transfer and Panoramic Tour" for ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise and Celebrity blew me away with their spectacular service and beautiful ship.  We arrived in Rome at 8:30 am on the day of the cruise.  We took Celebrity's "Transfer and Panoramic Tour" for $129/person.  This was a great way to see Rome.  The tour started at 10:30 am.  The Tour of Rome was about two hours.  They dropped us off at the Vatican to walk around for 1 hour.  Then it was 1 ½ hours to the port. We were at the ship at 3pm.  The guide was knowledgeable as we drove around Rome and she explained what we were seeing.    SICILY:   We were in Sicily on a Saturday.  The shops were closed from 1-4pm.  We slept in and got off the ship about 1pm and walked around the city.  It was a neat city but would have been neater if everything was open.  I recommend getting to the Fatalani Church where the mechanical figures perform at 11:45 am.  If you miss it(like we did), they do a mini performance every 15 minutes.  You can also climb to the top of the clock tower for a small fee.  Many people went to a town called Taormina which is a resort town and everything stays open.  People said it was a neat town and was what you thought Sicily would be like.   ATHENS:  We walked to the metro which took 35-40 minutes walking fast. The day we docked in Athens we were at the far boat slip.  Princess cruise lines was docked about 15 minutes closer to the Metro.   We are in our early 30's and are in shape.  I would not recommend doing this!  If you do, here is how to get there.  Walk out of the port and turn left.  Follow the sidewalk along the water side and walk for 40 minutes and you will see a pedestrian bridge that you walk up to go across the street.  Once you cross the bridge you are at the metro station on your left.  The ticket cost $1Euro to get to the Acropolis.  The ride is 25 minutes. Get off at Monastiraki.  Once you exit the train station turn right.  You will see some ruins off to your left and you will walk up a hill.  You will think you are walking through a quiet neighborhood but you are on your way to the Acropolis.  The streets will wind but you will end up at the entrance.  It takes about 10-15 minutes of uphill walking.  The entrance fee is $12 Euro.  I heard you could take a taxi to the Acropolis for $20 euro.  This would allow you to get there before the bus tours and you won't be as tired!  After visiting the Acropolis we walked down to some other ruins, Olympic Stadium, Parliament(guards change at noon ...you can have your picture with them).  We walked through the Plaka which is across from Parliament.  There you will find many shops and restaurants.  MYKONOS:  We took the ship's transfer option to the town ($10 unlimited use).  If you walk it would take you about 45 minutes because it is a couple of miles away.  There is no sidewalk so it is very dangerous to walk it.  While in town we walked around the many windy narrow streets.  You will find many shops and eateries.  If you follow the shoreline you will walk through the area called Little Venice (restaurants on the water) and will see the windmills.  We took the city bus $1.40 Euro to Paradise Beach.  The bus stop is at the far end of the shops.  Ask where it is. The streets are too confusing to be able to tell you where it is.  The beach is 20 minutes away.  It is nice if you want to see a beach and layout.  There are options to rent chairs or you can lie out on a towel for free.  There are jet skis you can rent.  There are snacks/drinks available.  The bus comes about every 30 minutes.  There is a line and you have to be aggressive to get on the bus.  TURKEY:   We took the Ephesus Deluxe tour through www.helloephesus.com.  It was $60 USD/person due at the end of the tour.  We had 11 people on the tour to get that rate.  The tour took us to Ephesus, terrace homes(cruise tour does not go in them), House of Virgin Mary, tomb of St. John, Turkish lunch(delicious), museum, and tour of carpet factory.  The guide was nice but I don't know how accurate his information was.  He walked with us through Ephesus for 2 ½ hours and spoke about what we saw.  I noticed the other tour guides had a badge on but ours did not.   A similar tour on the ship would cost you hundreds of dollars.  I would recommend using this company.  All entrance fees were included and the delicious lunch.  RHODES:  We walked around the old city on our own.  If you walk off the ship and stay on the sidewalk on the water side and walk 20 minutes you will run into a beautiful beach. It is hidden behind some restaurants.  On your way you will pass a church and what looks like a sailing/yacht club.  There are chairs to rent or you can lie out on your towel for free.  There is a diving platform you can swim out to that has three levels to dive from.  We saw the cruise activity staff and dancers there spending some free time on the beach.  So you can ask them how to get there! SANTORINI:  We took the donkey up the hill to Fira.  This was $5 Euro each.  It takes 30 minutes.  At the end of the ride you can buy your picture for $5 Euro.  There are 588 steps to the top of Fira.  It would take you awhile to walk it.  We walked around the town and then caught a city bus to Oia for $1.40 Euro.  The bus comes every 30 minutes and the bus ride is 30 minutes.  Oia is more expensive than Fira for shopping and eating.  There are beautiful views but it is more narrow windy roads with shops and eateries.  It was easy to take the bus each way.  A similar tour on the ship was $52/person to get to and from Oia.  NAPLES:  We took AP Tours #4.  Driver met us at port and took us to Pompeii.  We were there right when the gates opened 8:30am.  It cost $11 Euro to get into Pompeii.  We rented the walking tour earpiece machine for $6 Euro.  I would recommend paying extra for a human guide through the tour company.  We would have learned a lot more.  We spent two hours in Pompeii.  It is a bunch of ruins but was interesting to see.  The guide then took us to Positano where we had one hour to walk around.  Then we went to Sorrento where we had two hours to walk around.  He showed us a good pizza restaurant where our group decided to have lunch.  Sorrento and Positano are tourist towns with shops and eateries.  Along the way our guide stopped twice so we could take pictures of the Amalfi Coast.  He took us to the ferry station in Sorrento and purchased our ticket to Naples Port.  We boarded the Ferry at 4:25 to return to Naples at 5pm. It was a neat perspective instead of having him drive us back to the port along the same route we had already driven.  The tour cost $60 Euro + $11 Euro Pompeii + $11 Euro Ferry ride=82 Euro each with a group of 8.  You pay at the end of the tour.  A similar tour on the ship was $345/person.  I highly recommend this company.  DISEMBARKATION:  You can get off the ship with your luggage at 6am.  We got off at 7am and carried our luggage.  We had arranged a taxi with another couple through Rome Cabs for $130 Euro.  The ship charges $90/person for the airport transfer.  The taxi ride took less than one hour to get to the airport.  The driver dropped us at the international terminal.  THIS IS NOT WHERE YOU CHECK IN.  We had to ride a bus to another terminal where the flights for Detroit, Atlanta, and New York check in.  Then you go through security and take another shuttle back to the original terminal.  This process takes about 1-1 1/2 hours.  We had a 10:40 am flight and we were at our gate at 9:15 am.  Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
This will be a review in miniature as so much has been said about Her.We were onboard quickly at around 2, room was ready. We were in 1632 and the only problem with the room is that we are not in it anymore. I cannot even put into words ... Read More
This will be a review in miniature as so much has been said about Her.We were onboard quickly at around 2, room was ready. We were in 1632 and the only problem with the room is that we are not in it anymore. I cannot even put into words how pleased I am with the Celebrity team. From the wry wit of the Captain to the old world class acts that are the maitre d's to the guys and girls who just blend in with the woodwork, you could not find, IMHO, a finer group.AQ was great for two ladies as we used the spa facilities as an extention of our room. You cannot expect two high maintenance chicks to get ready at the same time and still remain best friends. AQ preserved our friendship.Murano was the best meal I've had in my life/twice (ditto for Carole)Martini bar was awesome (Thanks Boys)Casino, so much fun ( Thanks Victor)I met some great people, salt of the earth, I loved Turkey, it restored my faith in the human race, Athens I can do without forever, I wish I had found a bus to Oia, I wish I ate more, slept less, I should have gotten on the donkey in Santorini (Pinkie I miss you sneaking up on me) and I hope I can do it all again before they're throwing dirt on me.If it even crosses your mind, if you even consider it...do it. It was incredible. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Pre/Post Hotel-   We did this on our own and stayed at the Hotel d'Inglaterra.   It was a block or two from the Spanish steps.  The rate included breakfast.  I highly recommend this hotel.Embarkation/De-   What a breeze!   ... Read More
Pre/Post Hotel-   We did this on our own and stayed at the Hotel d'Inglaterra.   It was a block or two from the Spanish steps.  The rate included breakfast.  I highly recommend this hotel.Embarkation/De-   What a breeze!   We were on the ship no more than 15 minutes after we arrived at the port.   The luggage was outside of our room by the time the rooms were open to guests.  We didn't leave the ship until after 9am.  I thought since this was the first time in port, there might be small issues but the process was flawless, beginning to end.Public Rooms-   So much has been stated before that I won't repeat all of it.  The ship is beautiful.Cabin- The SS1 is very large.   Contrary to earlier posts, there is no soot problem in the aft of the ship.   There was plenty of closet space for us, and we packed a lotenough clothes, including formal wear for the cruise and an additonal week in Europe.  I love the rain shower in the bathroom.   Though the toiletries are a private label (not name brand) they are high quality.   Our cabin steward and assistant were excellent.   Both were very visible and friendly.   Two things I will point out:   I miss the water pitchers that were refilled twice a day.   I don't know if this was just missed both times I have been on Solstice or if this was eliminated.   The second item also was the same on both sailings:   I rarely saw the Butler.   Honestly, this is barely worth noting.   However, I believe this is because of the location of these suites.  I believe there are only 2 per floor on several decks.Fitness/Recreation-  Solstice offers a large gym.   The spa pricing is comparable to other cruises we have been on.   I repeated the Thai Pulstice Massage that I loved previously.   If anyone is on in the near future, ask for Lazslo.   He was by far the best therapist I have had.  I only used the sauna and Persian Gardens a few times and really enjoyed them both.Dining-  This is always subjective.   However, if anyone states they couldn't find anything to eat that they liked on this ship, they are just too hard to please.   The buffet area had fantastic food and an endless variety.   The hamburgers on the pool deck....well, let's just say I ate too many of them.   My sister enjoyed Egg Benedict in the many forms they were offered.  We ate in the MDR and found the food to be quite good.   The first day, the service was quite slow.   The second day it was very fast.   We were told later that the kitchen was rolling out a brand new menu on this cruise.Murano-  Still great!   Yes, there are changes and there is less table-side presentations.   The Goat Cheese Soufflee is back.   It is not 100% the same in presentation (I prefered this one to the previous) but the taste is still the same one I have loved.  Service was top notch.Tuscan Grille-  My new favorite specialty restaurant.   My sister is a "calamare freak" and loved these.   I had my new favorite appetizerCrab and Cheese with Roasted Corn.   I am hungry just thinking about it.   The service was very friendly and attentive, the view was amazing, and the food matched.Entertainment-  As other have said, there were many performers throughout the ship.   We only saw 3 main shows and liked them all.   My favorite was the Cirque du Soleil type show.   Oceans Four was also great.   There was plenty to do at night, and we managed to stay up late most nights as the bars were busy with other passengers.  Service-  This is where X and Solstice stand out.   I never imagined my previous cruises could be surpassed but they were.   It was a treat to see so many of my favorite staff on board.   It was almost like a reunion of sorts.  In fact, we ran into our dining room waiter from 1.5 years ago and he came and said hi and asked if we still drank decaf after dinner.   I don't know how the Celebrity staff remembers such thingsthis is not the first time something like this has happened.   He had just boarded in Istanbul and since a portion of our table asked to be moved to early seating, we asked to be moved to his section.  The management of this ship is on the ball.   They were present everywhere we went.   From the officers to the crew, we were greeted with smiles, by our names, and always asked how our cruise was and if anything could be done for us.  The Captain of the ship is full of charm and is very funny!   Be sure to go to the Welcome Toast!Shore Excurions-   See below for details.   There were huge crowds for the the ship shore excursions and I thought Solstice did a great job of this.   We met in the theater and the process, though long at times was well organized.   The company that X uses to handle all of the tours in both Ephesus and Istanbul was great.  We decided to make a few changes to the previously purchased tickets, and the staff at the SE Desk as well as the SE Mgr and On Board Revenue Mgr took great time with us to assist us in making our selections.Overall-   A fantastic cruise that will be hard to top.   We met some great people on board that we will continue to keep in touch with.   Solstice was spotless and the ship looked as new as when I was on the first cruise.   The staff really cares and goes out of their way.   Solstice has raised the bar. 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Sail Date: May 2009
Background This was our third cruise - first with Celebrity after cruising twice with RCCL. We both turned 50 this year and with children now grown up we seek much of a child free environment on our cruises, lots of daytime relaxation ... Read More
Background This was our third cruise - first with Celebrity after cruising twice with RCCL. We both turned 50 this year and with children now grown up we seek much of a child free environment on our cruises, lots of daytime relaxation and lively nights. I should also say that the ship is more important to us than the ports of call and the main draw on this cruise was being on a new ship with the added benefit of a great itinerary. Pre-cruise We stayed overnight at Hotel Traiano in Civitavecchia which was okay. We discovered her sister Hotel; the Bremante was much closer to the seafront area and would recommend this more if you don't like to walk too much. Transfer to the ship was complimentary and was pretty well booked up so you need to book it on arrival. Boarding Journey to the ship only took about 15 minutes and we were so excited to see the ship for the first time. No queues for check-in, we went right up to the AQ desk and within minutes were on our way through and on board by 12.30pm, very efficient. We got our glass of "champagne" on entry to the ship and made to feel very, very welcome right from the start. We were directed to the Oceanview Cafe as cabins were not going to be ready until around 1pm. Hand wash facilities were in operation with an attendant insisting everyone used the gel. We did hear people moaning during the cruise that they felt they were being treated like children but we observed people sneaking through without using the gel so it was really necessary. I think it is only considerate to your fellow passengers (and yourself) to ensure your hands are clean before using a self-service area. Cabins Just after 1pm an announcement told us cabins were now ready. We were off like a shot anxious to see what our AQ cabin had to offer. We loved it - not as big as the JS we had on Explorer but more than enough room for us and our belongings. I had read so much about this ship that I felt I knew everything about it and it was just as good as I expected, better in fact.... The photos of the cabins really don't do them justice. The multi-head shower in the bathroom was fantastic, our robes really thick and fluffy and the champagne on ice along with our fresh fruit and flowers added a real touch of luxury. We didn't like the iced tea at all and the canapEs were not worth bothering with (we only had them once). Our stateroom attendant Mario was excellent, he was so friendly but in a nice respectful way and so helpful. He got us extra coat hangers right away on request and as we didn't want to drink our champagne that day he put it on ice again later in the cruise and provided 4 champagne glasses for us so we could enjoy it with friends. We found the storage space more than adequate, the flat screen TV with music built in was really good and we found it fairly easy to operate. Our bed was ultra comfortable as were the pillows - our bed was right next to the balcony which I had hoped for. The balcony was not terribly big but well appointed; I liked the wooden decking and the wooden loungers. All in all I loved the cabin; it met all our needs and more. Public areas So much has been said about this ship so I will just focus on my favourites; as virtually everyone has reported, the standard of the furnishings and the range of comfortable seating / loungers all around the ship was beautiful; Relaxation Room - this is a fantastic place to lie and relax, very underused, I was often in on my own. Soft music, lovely scents, fresh juices and herbal teas complimentary, soft beds and nothing in front of you other than an expanse of ocean. Only problem is that spa staff use it as a waiting area for those getting treatments and this causes some disturbance. We did report it in feedback to Celebrity so I hope they change this as it is a real haven of tranquillity. Persian Gardens - I used this area twice, really enjoyable and great views out to sea. Solstice Deck - a great area for sunbathing on a double bed lounger, very comfortable and was never too crowded. Solarium - I LOVED what I call the clamshell beds, there are only around 8 of them so you need to up early to grab one or stay on board while others are ashore (we did on 2 days). They are made for sharing (but even better to have one to yourself) - lots of cushions to prop yourself up, with my i-pod and a book and my clamshell turned to face the sea I was in heaven, no way did it feel like I was on a ship with 3000 other people. I saw the hammocks and really wanted to use them but didn't get the chance, next time I will, they look great but you would need a hand to get on them to retain your dignity!! We spent a lot of time in the Solarium, didn't use the main pool area as this felt more tranquil but there always seemed to be some beds available if we had wanted to. The Lawn - we played bocce on the grass and really enjoyed it, hard to explain but it feels strangely comforting to have grass around on a ship, I personally really liked it and would not like to see it converted to more seating areas as some people have suggested, it adds yet another dimension to this ship. Martini Bar - our favourite hangout with our special order of a double flight of Martinis with our CC friends Audrey and Tim. The bartenders were great fun, very entertaining and friendly, they really looked like they were having a good time. It did get very busy just before the second dining time but that soon cleared; it was a nice lively area, a great place to socialise. Sky Observation lounge - we went to a Karaoke night up there and had a great time, I didn't really appreciate how beautiful the dEcor and furnishings were until I went back up in the daytime to take some photos. Celebrity has definitely gone the extra mile to make everywhere seem so upmarket and luxurious. Sunset Bar - right at the back of the ship this is a great place to sit for an afternoon tipple, again lovely seating and you can go directly up the stairway to get to the open seating area of the oceanview cafe to get a snack whenever. Downside of the sunset bar, smoking is allowed on one side and if when there were smokers there we really noticed the smell, it just seemed to blow everywhere. This is where CC members met for our Sailaway Party, complete with Mardi Gras beads. Ensemble Lounge - our Connexions party was held here and we had a great turnout of around 90 people. This is a very nice, more traditionally appointed area, very high quality but not as appealing to us. We definitely like the contemporary areas more, but the beauty of this ship is there is something and somewhere to suit all tastes. Restaurants Blu - being in AQ this was our appointed dining room and was a real bonus. Food and service were excellent and after going to Tuscan grill one evening we concluded that we preferred Blu. Paulo our waiter was first class and made us feel very special. Once we ordered additional potatoes and steamed veg, he offered them to us each evening. This is a beautiful restaurant, the rose theme and blue colour scheme is gorgeous. The rose wall is even more beautiful than in the pictures I have seen. The restaurant is not too big and this adds to the feeling of a very personal service. Main Dining Room - we went one evening out of curiosity and were accommodated no problem. The food and service were good and we really enjoyed our meal but not as special as Blu. We went to the Mother's Day brunch which was excellent; we had the most delicious fish and chips (real British style) and chocolate fountains with fresh strawberries, yummy. Murano - we had a beautiful Filet Mignon meal here with our sauce cooked at the table, a very nice experience and great service. We still felt that Blu was our favourite restaurant having been here and Tuscan Grill. Oceanview Cafe -we both thought the food here was excellent, lots of choice, we really like going up for afternoon tea around 4.00pm, lots of dainty sandwiches and bite sized cakes. They always had some sugar free deserts as well which felt a bit healthier. We always found we got seats no problem any time we went there. Ports of Call - not going to go into detail on these as my review is more about the ship, favourite port was Naples as we went to Capri, if you get the chance to go there, I highly recommend visiting Villa San Michelle at Anacapri. Istanbul was also very interesting especially our night out to Sultanas belly dancing club, attended by 38 of our CC friends (we organised this privately). Would recommend this if you are staying in port overnight. We asked for a stop off at the Blue Mosque on our way back to ship which they accommodated and what a sight seeing it all lit up at night. Santorini and Mykonos are simply beautiful, what more can I say. Kusadasi, great fun on a Jeep Safari / visit to Ephesus -very hot and dusty but worth it. Stayed on board at Athens as we had been before, great opportunity to get the Solstice deck almost to ourselves. Post Cruise We spent 2 nights at the Albergo del Senato in Rome, next door to the Pantheon. Excellent location where we spent our last night on the roof terrace having a nightcap with Joe and Melissa from CC looking out over Rome. A great end to a wonderful holiday. Overall We had a fantastic cruise; the ship was everything I had hoped for. Our CC group also contributed hugely to a great experience as there were so many friendly people who we met around the ship / in ports who quickly became like old friends. We sail on Equinox in February 2010 and I am so looking forward to sailing AQ again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Have had a few requests for review...... sorry it took so long.  After a terrible flight over on May 2nd (missed connections due to mechanical problems) we arrived in Rome 8 hours later than originally planned.  Stayed 1 night precruise ... Read More
Have had a few requests for review...... sorry it took so long.  After a terrible flight over on May 2nd (missed connections due to mechanical problems) we arrived in Rome 8 hours later than originally planned.  Stayed 1 night precruise at the Albergo del Senato right next door to the Pantheon.  Wonderful hotel in a perfect location.  We walked all over that evening after  a wonderful dinner at a cafe in the Piazza della Rotunda.  We shared a ride with 2 other couples from our sailing with Romecabs and they picked us up promptly at 11:50.  So easy.....didnt even have to load the luggage :)Boarded Solstice on Monday May 4th around 2:00 pm and while there was a line at the port, it went very smoothly and quickly.  We had previously sailed Royal Caribbean from the same terminal and their process was just as smooth and effortless.  Once on board our cabin was already ready so went to check it out.  The cabins are very nice.  Modern decor but not "in your face" modern which I do not like at all.  More of a "subdued modern" with earthy colors of tan, brown, burgandy etc.  We found our cabin to be a nice size and room for everything - well most everything.  I always take way too many pairs of shoes.... had those tucked everywhere.  Our balcony was one of the "angled" ones right before the hump and it was HUGE !  Cabin 6214.  The ship is designed very well so that most areas never felt crowded in any way.  We found lots of areas where we could be all alone and have a nightcap or just sit and watch the sea go by way up top.  Due to the port intensiveness of this cruise - we did not use many of the ships amenities....well except for the casino.  Did not attend any shows, lectures or presentations.  We used the sea days to "catch up" as we like to go-go-go in port.  We cruise for the ports - not the ship.Now about the ports.Santorini was beautiful.  We did not get up early to get our tender tickets and found ourselves with a high number which put is off the ship about 4 pm.  With arrival time at 2 pm my advice is get in line early.  We were there until 10 pm so that helped - but sunset at @ 8:30 that day so unless you want to wander around in the dark you will find yourself heading back to the ship right after sunset (which is what we did)  All aboard was 9:30 anyway and with the cable car line you don't want to cut it too short.  We hired taxi to take us to Oia, wait for us and return us to Fira for 50 euros.  Had planned on taking the bus but didnt want to hassle with it as this was soooo easy. Mykonos was ok.  Altho our original itin said tender - we docked.  Shuttle was provided into town for $ 10. per person round trip which we used.  Ran all day regularly.  Convenient.  Mainly walked around the town area, shopped and had lunch.  In retrospect wish we had of gone to Delos for the morning and spent just the afternoon in town.Istanbul WE LOVED.  After getting off the ship we exited the port area and found the nearest ATM and got lira.  Then went to the nearest tram stop and bought tokens and took the tram into the old town area.  Very easy, very convenient and very cheap !  70 cents one way ride per person.  Since we overnighted there and planned to use the tram again the next morning..... we bought our return tokens as well as round trip tokens for the next day so we wouldnt have to bother again.  Just keep them seperate from coin lira as they look like coin money.  Visited Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque and Cistern all which we enjoyed alot.  Missed Topkapi palace as even tho it is open until 7 pm they were not letting anyone in after 4:30.  Oh well.  Next trip.  Next morning we did the tram back into town and did the Grand Bazaar, had a great lunch at Bodrum restaurant and then back to the ship to leave.  Istanbul is clean, easy to get around in using the tram, beautiful park with fountian near sites..... people are reserved but helpful and friendly.Kusadasi was also extremely nice.  Resort area and has it all....mountains and water.  We did the Jeep Tour with Ekol travel and wow..... what a day.  Not for the faint of heart but if you like 4X4'ing, quaint villages and amazing ruins....this is it.  Include the Terrace Houses - it is worth the extra cost.  We were picked up at 9 am and dropped off at 6 pm.... then shower and change and back off the ship for dinner.  We had a wonderful meal very near the ship right on the boulevard that runs along the waterfront.  Kings Place.  Look for the clock tower and to the left.  We were in port here until midnight.Athens.  What can I say.  I have wanted to go there since I was a little girl.  While I am so glad I went - saw the Acropolis etc.... I did not like the city.  Big, dirty, smoggy ! and graffitti on every possible surface you can imagine.  We walked from the ship to the metro, took metro into Monistiki station then walked thru the Plaka up to the Acropolis.  Enjoyed that for a while, came back down, shopped a bit and had lunch.  Decided against the metro back (didnt want the walk at the other end) so took a taxi back to the ship for 20 euro.  Naples we had originally planned to do Capri as we did Pompeii and Amalfi coast tour last Europe trip.  But since me and half the ship had head colds by this time we just stayed in Naples.  Took a taxi to the National Archeological Museum and spent the morning there.  Had the taxi meet us and asked for some "good pizza".   He took us to a pizza place established in late 1800's.  Pretty good too :)  Then back to the ship.  If we get back to Naples again - will not stay in town...... also big city, dirty and while we enjoyed the museum there is just too much other AMAZING stuff nearby to stay in Naples.Back to Rome..... disembarkation was weird.  We left our cabin and went to get a coffee at Cafe Boccio (as we did each morning) while there we heard a ships officer talking on a walkie-talkie.....he told someone to call our disembarkation color - so instead of going to the theatre we turned around and headed for the gangplank..... no one else was there.  No line - zip zero nada...... talk about easy !  We found our luggage and went outside to wait for the other 2 couples who were sharing a ride with Romecabs back to Albergo del Senato.  We stayed one night post cruise at this hotel and will do so again when we get back to Rome.  Picked up promptly on Saturday morning by Romecabs with a smooth dropoff at the airport.  Now, comes the sad part.....we then had to come home. OH well until our next trip ! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
We are just back from an amazing cruise!!  This was a "ladies" getaway for us without our husbands but we are all going on a cruise together in the Fall.  We are two ladies in our early 60's.  I had been on the Norwegian ... Read More
We are just back from an amazing cruise!!  This was a "ladies" getaway for us without our husbands but we are all going on a cruise together in the Fall.  We are two ladies in our early 60's.  I had been on the Norwegian Gem (didn't compare) with my husband last Fall and this was my friend's first cruise.We flew in from Philadelphia on US Air (which was packed and tight).  I hired Romecabs (Stefano) to pick us up as I had used them before on our last trip.  They were there waiting and I would recommend them highly.  We arrived at 8:45 AM and went directly to the port about an hour ride.We had about a 20 minute wait after we arrived before we were allowed on the ship which was great!  We were told to go right to the buffet which was very good and not too crowded- no problem finding a seat.  As rooms were not ready, we enjoyed sitting outside and relaxing with a cold drink.After an hour, we took a walk to locate our room and it was ready (Cabin 1275 midship in Concierge Class).  Our attendants were wonderful and actually went for our luggage right away so we could unpack.  Throughout the trip, they were great and on the 3rd day, I wrote a letter to guest relations about them (this is noted on their record and they will receive extra time off, etc, I was told).Our cabin was very nice with a normal size balcony with 2 chairs, ottomans, and a table.  Our beds were near the front of the cabin which worked fine althought it was tight getting into the closet.  Since we had the bed split into twins with a table in between, it probably took up more room than if the bed was left queen size.  The bathroom wasn't large but new and shiny clean.We had no complaints about the food at all.  In concierge class, you can order a full brakfast which we did on port days if we were leaving early.  Otherwise we had coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice delivered at 6:30 each morning as we are early risers.  The breakfast buffet was great and we never went to the main dining room for breakfast as we enjoyed the selection.The food was always good - especially the creme brulee and cheesecake!  Formal night was lovely and we really enjoyed the lobster!We thought the ship was beautiful and offered so much for everyone.  We attended one shopping lecture (we are shoppers and spent much time in every port shopping) plus a lecture on perfumes.  We only went to one show, a female vocalist and celebrity impersonator, who was wonderful.  We gambled a little in the slots each night and wound up even at the end of the cruise.  The bars and lounges were all nice although I found that the pomegrande martini's were not as good as I get at home- even at the martini bar.  We did not eat in the specialty restaurants but did eat at LeBistro for crepes 3 times which has a $5 cover charge- delicious!!  The only negativity we experience were with the shore excursions in Turkey.  Each tour manages to sneak in a carpet demonstration.  This is fine if you are interested but it should be an option.  In Kadashi, we  took the tour of the Turkish Towns and Villages- Sirince was amazing and you felt you were back a hundred years or so in time.  Tire was just okay.  We stopped at a charming restaurant on the way back.  Afterwards, we had an hour stop at another carpet company for another demonstration.  Several of us were very upset about this and after a half hour, they sent us back by a private van  to the ship.  After several letters back and forth to the shore excursion manager, we received 40% of the money back for the tour as we felt it wasted limited time and it was not noted correctly on the tour description.  However, they listened to our complains and resolved the issue nicely.We went to Santorini, Mykonos, and Sorrento (by ferry from Naples) on our own as we just wanted to stroll the streets and browse the shops.  In Istanbul and Athens, we booked tours.Disembartion was very organized.  Be sure to go to the lecture about it as the cruise director, Dru, made it fun!!  We left at 6 AM as we had an 11:15 AM flight.   We assembled in the MDR, and were free to leave after about 5 minutes.  Our luggage was waiting in the terminal. Once again, Romecabs was right there waiting.  This was a wonderful experience.  I spoke to several seasoned cruisers and they all agreed other ships would have a hard time to beat the Solstice!!  I did hear some complaints but they were so silly, it was ridiculous.  I hope to take a cruise again on it with my husband!!!  I loved it!!! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
This was the maiden eastern Mediterranean voyage for the Solstice. Most of our feelings about the cruise were positive. The ship, being new, is beautiful. It's contemporary style is contrary to our own personal style, but we ... Read More
This was the maiden eastern Mediterranean voyage for the Solstice. Most of our feelings about the cruise were positive. The ship, being new, is beautiful. It's contemporary style is contrary to our own personal style, but we appreciated the design. Service was terrific. The main Grand Eperney dining room offered excellent food - better than the Princess and Regent cruises we had taken before. The cafe with the buffet stations had varied choices for breakfast and lunch however, the evening offerings, if opted instead of the main, were slim.Our main difficulty with the cruise was their handling of the shore excursions. Since this was their maiden voyage, I imagine that they will work out many of the kinks, but their handling of stickers and tenders (at Santorini) was abhorrent! The volcano/hot springs tour was a disappointment. The springs might be hot in summer but definitely not in May.Rhodes had been dropped as a port after we signed up for the cruise, which was disappointing. Embarkation went very smoothly but disembarking was a nighmare with difficulty finding luggage and getting a shuttle to the train station. This makes it sound as if we might not have enjoyed the cruise but we truly did and would recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
My husband and I have cruised before but this was our first time on Celebrity. We loved it would rate it as one of our favorite ships. We were pleasantly surprised to find a good age range of people on this ship as well as people from all ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised before but this was our first time on Celebrity. We loved it would rate it as one of our favorite ships. We were pleasantly surprised to find a good age range of people on this ship as well as people from all over the world. We met so many interesting friendly people and enjoyed our experience on the ship very much. Pre Hotel - I traded in Hilton Honors points to stay for free at the Hilton Cavalieri located on a hill overlooking St. Peter's Basilica and the city of Rome. It is a wonderful hotel in a beautiful, peaceful location. If you had to pay I am not sure I would recommend it, because the cost per night is ridiculously high, but if you are a Hilton member it's worth trading in points. They will even upgrade members to a floor where there was complimentary food, drinks and cocktails offered from 7AM - 11 PM. The hotel offers a free shuttle that runs all day to the heart of the city. Embark/Debark - A breeze both ways. We took Rome Cabs and were dropped off right at the ship about noon. They were on time, professional and friendly. The debarkation process was very efficient, quick, and well organized. We took the ship transfer to the airport and although I had no complaints, the next time around I would stick with Rome Cabs since they were cheaper. Public Rooms - Beautiful ship! Compared to previous ships we have been on, this was the most sophisticated and elegant. At times, it felt more like a luxury hotel. I thought the layout was very nice, the grassy area was wonderful, the big comfy chairs and beds on the sun deck were great, and the lack of smoke in the casino was a nice benefit. Fitness/Recreation - Wonderful exercise facility and pools. We found ourselves loving the grassy area and we got addicted to Bocci. It was especially nice with a cocktail at sail aways. It was nice to have such a unique entertaining space on a ship. Dining - Admittedly we didn't eat in the main dining room very much. While I had no complaints, there were just so many other great options and fun things to do that having a 2 hour meal every night did not appeal to me. We both loved Murano, Tuscan Grille and Silk Harvest and I felt they were more than worth the extra charge. Another great place was Bistro on Five which had delicious crepes. One suggestion to people on a similar itinerary is to take advantage of the nights you are in ports late and enjoy the local cuisine. As fabulous as the food was on board, some of our most memorable meals we had were on shore having wonderful local Greek and Turkish Food. That being said, we had no complaints about the food in any of the venues. Entertainment - We only saw a couple of shows, mostly because there were so many other things we wanted to do. There was just not enough time to enjoy everything. The dance club and upper lounge were popular places and the band was quite good. One of my surprise favorites was watching the Hot Glass Show. It was very interesting and strangely therapeutic to watch. A tip if you want to win a piece in the drawings is to go the last night because there is hardly anyone that night and your odds are better. Otherwise, it was always popular.  Also, although not officially "entertainment" the bartenders at the Martini Bar were great fun. They put on quite a show and kept the crowd entertained every night.  Service - Outstanding! I never met a rude crew member and found them all to be outgoing, helpful and friendly. I saw a disgruntled guest yelling at a crew member who remained calm and smiled while trying his best to be helpful. I have the utmost respect for the crew who sees thousands of new people every week and has to handle less than kind people every day but manages to do it with such calm. The Greek captain was very entertaining and it was refreshing to have a captain who had such a good sense of humor. We found if you greeted the crew back in their native language (it's not that hard to learn a few "good morning's" or "thank you's" in a few different languages), that they really appreciated it. Ports - For more detail and good tips see my port reviews below, this is a brief summary. For the most part we tackled the ports on our own which was very easy to do with a little research.  In Rome make sure to pre-book a tour if you plan to visit the Vatican Museum and buy a Roma Pass if you visit sites. You will save hours of time not waiting in long lines. Santorini was beautiful, be sure to get off early to beat crowds up the funicular and visit Ia which was the highlight of the island. If you are a history buff go to Delos while stopped in Mykonos. The ship's tour was convenient and gave you enough time to enjoy Mykonos as well. Istanbul was crazy but worth the experience. We ultimately decided on the ship's tour which turned out to be a good decision because the traffic was horrendous and the guide we had was a professor who knew so much about the history and culture that it really added to the experience. For those hesitant because you don't want to go to a rug demonstration keep in mind you are not held captive, you can skip the demonstration and look around other places then meet back up with the group. Several people did that with no problems. I found it humorous that people complained about the rug demo when all you had to do was walk away and join up later. In Ephesus we did a private tour with Ekol Travel. I highly recommend this to get the most out of that incredible port. In Athens I heard comments on the ship about the crowds at the Acropolis. The best advice I can give anyone reading this is to get off the ship the second you are cleared and take a taxi directly to the Acropolis first thing in the morning. This is what we did and were able to experience the Acropolis almost by ourselves. There was only 3 other people on the top. In Naples we went to the Naples Archeological Museum which houses wonderful things that have been recovered from Pompeii and the Roman Baths of Caracalla.  If like us, you have already been to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast I highly recommend this coupled with some Napoli Pizza and a walk through the city. It is an experience you won't soon forget. I went into more detail in the port review with a few more tips I discovered. Overall - We could not have asked for a better experience. We honestly loved every minute. We like adventure but also enjoy a little class so it was a perfect vacation for us. We were able to go out on our own and experience some wonderful sites and come back to an elegant ship. I missed getting information from some of the great people we met so I hope we see you sometime on the Equinox. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Not to be long winded, The food in the main dinging room was uninspired and marginal The waiter was slow and non-responsive The assistant waiter had personality, ran to serve, and should have been the head waiter The ... Read More
Not to be long winded, The food in the main dinging room was uninspired and marginal The waiter was slow and non-responsive The assistant waiter had personality, ran to serve, and should have been the head waiter The rooms were great, but the technology sucked. TV's in both rooms (Suites) did not function, the GPS and cameras never worked, the internet was down most of the time we tried, and the onboard accounting system was days behind The pool and jacuzzi closed way too early and they were way too undersized for such a large boat The green was closed alot and you could not even putt on the green, which is one reason my boys were not happy The kids club and teen room were closed all the time, and did not have the services advertised The soda plan worked well, and we did not have carry those dopey glasses around The entertainment in the theater was lousy, lousy, lousy, I have seen better in a Club Med, where the people are not trained to entertain The entertainment in the rest of the ship was great, only problem they quit just as the evening was getting started. Not everyone eats at old people time (6:00). The cruise director told me that the target market for this boat was families with older (teen) children. Guess what, they missed this completely. my children do not mind a little classical music (violin, etc.) only problem was that the music ended before cocktails and dinner, and the shows had odd hours that if you ate late you were screwed to see the shows though we did not miss much, in our opinion. Never quite figured out what the purpose of the butler was. He really didn't do much, it was the cabin attendant who seemed to work and always be outside our door. Field trips/excursions were OK, but where were the ones for people under 75? Jet skiing, snorkeling/diving, parasailing, hiking, climbing, beach, boating, sailing, golf, tennis, shooting, all day trips with climbing or as the brochure says "Strenuous" stuff, etc.. The most "strenuous" thing was climbing a few steps on the bus. Their problem is that with no teen type activities, no teens should be on this boat, hence they are not really marketing to who they say they are "families", just couples and old people. We did like embarkation and disembarkation, this process was fairly painless, with the exception of trying to get my daughter a drinking ID as she was 19, and allowed to have a glass of wine with dinner (After living in France for many years this is standard practice) The specialty restaurants were for the most part the only place to have a decent dinner. I agree with other opinionaters, the buffet had better food. The Asian restaurant needs to learn how to make and serve sushi, it was terrible, the French had the best food and service on the entire boat. The rooms were nice, but we had suites, so I can not say what the others must be like, and the baths were bigger than we thought they would be. The photo shop/photographers did a decent job, but don't buy anything until the last day as they lower the prices significantly rather than through the stuff out. The would be better served to have a way to view your photos without having to print and throw away so many photos, which also means less chemicals, etc. in the environment. We thought drink prices were fairly moderate, and we brought our own "special" liquor on board. They said they would confiscate it, but never even looked, just xrayed and let it past. We did not have a problem with paying for their liquor, but their selection was pretty limited. Thinking about it there are a couple of pet peeves: Hardly anyone wore black tie, what's with this? If you have black tie nights, then everyone wears black tie. We did not feel like wearing formal wear, as we wear it all the time, but did to be in the spirit, or so we thought. Why would you schedule an excursion to a place without head sets, when you know you will not be able to be heard without one over the din of 1000's of other tourers, and everyone else has them but Celebrity???? You can't even buy a piece of the Corning glass, why??????? Why do they close jacuzzis on a boat at 7:30?????? What is the incentive for good service if you tip ahead of time?????? Why do they have such nice TV's if you can;t use them??????? Why advertise things you do not deliver on (Teen Club)??????? Why did we spend 4 hours at a rug store??????? We actually did not, we left the tour and went to a ceramics place, where other tour companies take their tours, but when no one else is there they will cut a deal on some beautiful stuff. Why when you are in Ephesus would you not go to see the Virgin Mary's church? They talk about it at length on the bus to the site, but then ask you to see a stupid show. (we did not we left the group and walked 200 yards to the site), and guess what?? it was one of the better preserved sites. In fact a private tour guide had 2 people with him and told us that not all the tour companies blow off the church, only those that want you to stay at the rug place for 4 hours in hopes you will buy something. To be perfectly honest, I would much rather go to a travel agent, book hotels and air to travel around Greece, and rail to travel around Italy, pay for a nice 5 star hotel, eat in very nice restaurants, and save a bunch of money. The cruise would have been OK for just me and my wife, if all we wanted to do was rest, and take a couple of excursions. By the end of the trip, we had blown off the boat programs and did our own. Why would Celebrity not offer do it yourself land trips or make arrangements to rent cars, boats, etc.? I now know why so many people do their own things on each of the stops, but then if you are going to do this, then why cruise at all, just pack 1 bag (leave the tux and dress at home) and travel around, particularly Greece where the ferries and air are very convenient, and Italy where the trains are very convenient. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Celebrity Solstice Review - May 4, 2009 - Eastern MediterraneanABOUT USFirst off let me give you some general information about us. We are both in our mid 30's and have two young children (who didn't come with us on this cruise). ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Review - May 4, 2009 - Eastern MediterraneanABOUT USFirst off let me give you some general information about us. We are both in our mid 30's and have two young children (who didn't come with us on this cruise). We grew up in Southern California and now live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are big time foodies, enjoy going to the theater and like listening to music ranging from jazz standards to top-40. Somewhat new to cruising, this was our first time on Celebrity but our third cruise.We booked this trip to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. For this vacation, we tagged 3 nights in Paris pre-cruise, then took an overnight train to Rome to catch the ship for this 11 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise with ports in Santorini, Mykonos, Istanbul, Kusadasi/Ephesus, Athens, and Naples/Capri. We then took 2 nights post-cruise in Rome before heading back to California.EMBARKATIONWe connected with 3 other couples through Cruise Critic and arranged transfer from Rome to the Port of Civitavecchia. A large van from Rome Cabs picked us up at Rome Termini approximately 11:00AM then drove through the city to pick up others from their hotels. Timing was perfect and we arrived at the port of Civitavecchia at around 1:00PM. With this being Solstice's first Eastern Mediterranean sailing, we weren't sure if we would be allowed on the ship prior to the posted boarding time of 3:00PM. When we arrived, there were plenty of other guests who mentioned they were on the ship well before noon. We were told the rooms weren't ready, but we went ahead and dropped of our carry-on bags in our Aqua Class room on Deck 11. We had room 1450 just under the Aqua Spa Salon. After dropping off our carry-on bags we headed over to the Aqua Spa Cafe for a nice, quiet and delicious lunch. We were so tired from the train travel that we didn't want to deal with the crowd and lines at the Oceanview Cafe. Our impressions of the food at the Spa Cafe were better than expected. More on food below.THE SHIPNot going to say too much about the ship as others have already commented. This ship is absolutely beautiful! There were other ships doing similar itineraries but one of the main reasons we booked Solstice was because it was a new ship with design and decor that match our tastes. In two words... Contemporary Elegance. Reminded me of the Sofitel brand of hotels we see throughout the world. However, speaking with other guests on the ship, some said they hated the decor and used words like "antiseptic" or "sterile" to describe it. Many of these folks sailed on the Millennium class and were constantly making comparisons and complaints. I couldn't say much to rebut since we haven't sailed on those other ships. We personally love the ship's design and decor and the pictures you see posted on-line don't do justice.THE STATEROOMOur AQ cabin was spacious and beautiful. Again not going to mention too much to avoid repetition from other reviews. I specifically chose the location of the cabin under the Aqua Spa Salon because there is no activity in the salon in the evenings and that it is also very close to the relaxation room, spa, and gym. We never heard any noise from the deck above. We would highly recommend that if you're booking an AQ cabin and use the Spa amenities often, to book one of the forward cabins. This also avoids the "alleged" soot that some have mentioned on prior sailings. My only complaint was that there is very little storage space for an 11 night cruise. We overpacked! but managed to get everything stored and hidden. We know now for our next Europe cruise to pack light and make use of the ships laundry and dry cleaning services.Aqua ClassTo us, AQ was definitely worth the couple of hundred dollars difference from Concierge class. Not sure how else to describe, but here's a list (in no particular order) of main points (positive and negative) about AQ class- priority embarkation line was short when we arrived at the port - loved the large jetted shower- fresh flowers were a nice touch- extra toiletries were especially nice and not overly scented- proximity to Aqua Spa amenities (if booking a forward cabin)- food in Blu was excellent (more on food later)- more diverse room service options (used it several times)- huge fluffy towels and bathrobes- we enjoyed receiving fresh fruit daily (great to have on hand after spending time in the gym)- ice tea has a strange after taste but was refreshed daily and tasted better with sweetener or sugar- daily water bottles (we requested 4 per day) were appreciated for taking with you to the gym and on a couple of the hot port days- relaxation room was great however, it is not exclusive to AQ guests. It got quite loud sometimes since the room is also used as a waiting room for those getting a spa treatment. - the afternoon canapes are disgusting! Tried them the first day. It's like eating wallpaper paste! We overheard some folks in the halls complaining why they don't automatically receive them anymore and now have to fill out a card to get them, but I see how wasteful it could be if they provided them automatically to everyone in CC and AQ.THE FOODBlu - Because we were booked in an AQ room, we were assigned to Blu. We decided to choose late dining because of the port intensive itinerary. Again, we're foodies and eat at many fine dining establishments in the San Francisco Bay area and Napa Valley. So, after reading many mixed reviews of Blu, we were a little worried and came in with low expectations. In the end, we were actually quite impressed with the food there. The service was great but a little spotty (e.g. water glasses weren't always filled). But this didn't bother us. The Maitre 'd came by our table every night to see how we were doing and to chat with us. We also had wonderful "table mates". The menu selection was very diverse, and the portion sizes were just right. Not too little and not too large. We never left the table feeling hungry or bloated and we were always satisfied. Preparation, presentation, flavor and freshness were on par with many of the great land restaurants we've dined at. Heard a few complaints about there not being enough food on the plates. I say if you want more, just order another dish! Our server figured out from the beginning that we enjoy pasta. So she came with a pasta/starch dish every night for us to taste and share along with our main entree. We also thought the dessert selection was excellent. Not too sweet and not too bland. Everything was just right. We had breakfast in Blu once and it was also a wonderful experience. Breakfast service ended in Blu at around 9:00am. Because there were so few people dining there in the morning, the service was great and the food came very hot. It was a nice, quiet and intimate breakfast. I only wish we could have woken up earlier to enjoy the breakfast experience there more often. But sleeping in is a must when you're on vacation! In general, eating in Blu was truly a clean dining experience. We tended to stick with our servers recommendations which were spot on. Eating there and avoiding the Oceanview Cafe was also a great way for us to maintain portion control yet still feel very satisfied with our meal. Happy to say that we actually maintained our weight after returning from the cruise. We were curious about the specialty restaurants and had a chance to eat at all 4 of them.Bistro on Five - This was a surprise! Ate there for lunch one day and thought it was delicious. We highly recommend the Cowboy and Mediterranean crepes. Minor issue for us there is that the texture of the crepes seemed to be more like a tortilla. So it was more like a quesadilla than a crepe. It wasn't as much an issue for the savory dishes, but it was for the dessert crepes. We expected the dessert crepes to be soft, light and fluffy (the way the French do it). But it was the same tortilla like texture of the savory crepes. Flavors however were still excellent. For dessert go for the Banana Nutella crepe!Tuscan Grille - We ate at Tuscan Grille after spending a day in Athens. This was a mistake. We should have booked Tuscan Grille for another day because we had a fairly large, but very delicious authentic Greek meal for lunch while in port. So we came back to the ship feeling not too hungry. The food portions at Tuscan Grill were way too large. We felt very wasteful by not finishing each plate. I was already pretty full after the delicious crabmeat appetizer I had. All-in-all the flavors of the food at Tuscan Grille were great. The steaks there are just as good as the ones offered in Blu. Except Tuscan Grill will give you a steak 2-3 times the size. So, in our opinion, if you eat in Blu, there's no need to eat at Tuscan Grille. But if you are not in Blu, eat at Tuscan Grill but be prepared for a very large dinner.Murano - This was our best dining experience. Service was excellent and the waitstaff was very friendly. I only wish they were a little more personable as they seemed to be very robotic. They seemed too concerned about what fork or knife to lay down, and to make sure no breadcrumb was left on your table. We personally don't care about all this and really are more into the food flavors, ingredients, and preparation. But alas, the waitstaff came to life when we engaged them in more conversation. When we were seated, we were shortly presented with a mise en bouche of salmon pate with creme fraiche and caviar. This was delicious and left us wanting more! If you like fois gras, the fois gras appetizer they have is hands down the best we've tasted. We each ordered it along with a second appetizer. The cheese souffle there was also excellent. Salads were also fresh and perfectly seasoned. After the salad and soup, we were then served with a refreshing intermezzo of mango granite to cleanse our palates. Since it was formal night and we didn't want to miss out on lobster, we each ordered the surf and turf entree. Again, food was prepared well and tasted great. We declined the cheese course and ordered dessert which to our surprise was just okay. In general, the appetizers were the highlight of the meal. The next time we eat there, I would be inclined to just order multiple appetizer and salad courses and I would be happy. This is the only specialty restaurant that I would recommend as a must-do.Silk Harvest - This was our biggest disappointment. I had some high expectations after reading the rave reviews on Cruise Critic about this Asian fusion restaurant. The atmosphere in the restaurant was buzzing. There was a large group of 20+ people occupying the center table and they were being quite...festive. Some complained but it didn't bother us. As far as the food goes, I really wanted to like this place. Maybe it's what we ordered or maybe we ordered too much and got full after the first few dishes, but something was just not right. We ordered a couple of the small plates for appetizers as well as a sushi sampler plate. These we pretty good but not great. Then came the green curry pork and the pad thai. We are both asian so these were just not tasting right at all. I don't know what was fusion about it at all. I had no idea of what they were trying to fuse....asian-french, asian-american, etc? There was no flavor to the dishes at all and the pork in the curry was too chewy. The waiter came by and I asked for more fish sauce, chili, cilantro and some other seasonings. They were happy to provide this but we later just gave up and decided to get dessert. Then the Maitre 'd came by and spoke with us. Great guy! We had a wonderful discussion about the ship, various dining venues and the great service we've been receiving. He then asked about the food. I was honest and told him what we thought and he took notes. He basically explained that this is their first time trying to do Asian fusion and Silk Harvest has been having a very difficult time trying to balance the flavors to appeal to everyone and that they've been working to fine tune the menu. Our general impression of this place is that the food here is definitely not fusion. Basically, we can get a better pad thai or green curry at our local hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant for less than $10 total. And land based P.F. Chang's is 10 times better. On the brighter side, the Maitre 'd was appreciative of our comments and the time we took to talk with him. He said verbatim... "well, you are a key customer and we want you sail with us again". Thought that was a strange comment. To our surprise, when we returned to our cabin, we saw that the cover to the restaurant was credited back in full. Wow! We were very surprised with this gesture!Oceanview Cafe - We only ate at the Oceanview Cafe buffet 3-4 times during the entire trip and only for a light breakfast or to pick up a small late night snack. So can't say much about their lunch or dinner. In general, food was pretty good and very diverse. We enjoyed the various egg type dishes as well as the pastries. The chocolate desserts there were delicious! They had this one awesome melt-in-your mouth chocolate desert that looked like a Hostess Ding Dong. It made for a great late night snack to go with tea or coffee.Grand Epernay - We had lunch once in Grand Epernay. Lunch was good but not great. A little bland. But if the lunch we had in Grand Epernay is indicative of what their dinner is like, then I'm glad we booked AQ for Blu alone. We also went to Grand Epernay for the "Mother's Day Brunch". The staff handed out single stem roses to all the women which was nice. The food station setup was beautiful and made for nice pictures. There were two chocolate fondue fountains flanking a huge dessert presentation. There were meat carving stations, a cheese station, a waffle station, several entree stations, etc. Lots off food to choose from. Food was pretty good. As far as flavor goes, it's pretty much what you would get at the Oceanview cafe for breakfast and lunch. THE PORTS OF CALL:Santorini - Wish we had spent more time here. It is such a beautiful place. The ship arrived at 2:00PM and was scheduled to leave a 11:00PM. So we felt very rushed to take it all in. The daily newsletter indicated that tender tickets would be available for distribution beginning 8:00AM. So, I decided to be the first one in line at 7:30AM. It was a good move as I later learned that many folks didn't get on to the island until close to 4:00PM! We took the tender a little after 2 and took the cable car. After a little searching for the bus stop to Oia, we learned that the bus only ran hourly. By the time the next bus came, it was already 3:30PM and we didn't make it to Oia until almost 4PM! After rushing to view the Oia sights, we were fortunate to bump into some friends we met on our Rome-Port transfer who had rented a car. We hitched a ride with them back to Fira and had some time to walk around and have delicious souvlaki and lamb meatball dinner. Near the end of the day, the line for the cable car was very long and wrapped around a couple of blocks! It was getting very cold so we decided to walk down the donkey trail! Interesting experience and it got very challenging to try and "dodge the bullets" as the sun started setting. In hindsight, we should have rented a car as the island seems to be very drivable. Those that booked excursions through Celebrity had no problem getting to the island early, but everyone still ended up in Fira to either catch the cable car, ride the donkey, or walk down back to the tender. Lots of congestion. We were the only ship in port that evening, so I can imagine what a nightmare it would be if there was another one scheduled to depart in the evening as well.Mykonos - This was our lazy port day and one of our favorite ports. We took our time getting out of bed and eating breakfast. I had purchased shuttle tickets to take us to town ($10 each). Saw a few walking to town but glad we didn't as it is not very scenic and there is no pedestrian walkway. We spent time strolling the shops, taking pictures, and enjoying the scenery. Before heading back to the ship, we ended the day sitting at an outdoor restaurant/cafe and had some delicious Greek salad and a mixed seafood plate while watching the people pass by. Istanbul - We toured Istanbul on our own. Unfortunately, the first day we were there, we made the mistake of buying shuttle tickets through the ship. Traffic was terrible going into town and much worse getting back to the ship. Coming back was almost a 2 hour process. Also, the shuttle stops running at around 6:30. This didn't make sense to us since it is an overnight port. First day we visited the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. That evening, a large group of us (arranged through Cruise Critic roll-call) went to Sultana's, a Turkish dinner show. It was a very good show not only featuring some belly dancers but also some authentic Turkish folk dancing. There was some audience participation that also featured some of our Cruise Critic friends. The food at Sultana's was also quite good and featured some authentic appetizers and desserts. For the 2nd day in Istanbul, we decided to take the tram and spend the morning at Topkapi Palace. The tram was quick, easily accessible and around 2 Lira. After an exhausting day, we headed back to the ship and enjoyed room service lunch on our balcony as we sailed away from Istanbul.Kusadasi/Ephesus - This port was the unexpected surprise port of our cruise. We had little knowledge and went in with no clue as to what we were going to see. We had arranged a private tour through Ekol Travel and did a Jeep Safari tour to the village of Sirence followed by a tour of Ephesus and the Terrace Houses, and a visit to the House of Virgin Mary. Surprisingly, there were only 3 or 4 other cars from our ship that caravanned along with us. We thought this was the best way to see the countryside as the driver and guide took us off-road for some beautiful scenery. Be warned though that this excursion is not for the faint of heart. One couple turned back likely due to fear of heights. At many points during the excursion we were hugging the mountainside along some steep cliffs. Our guide Tanner was excellent. He's a graduate in archaeology and ancient civilizations and gave us so much information. At one point we did end up at a rug presentation following a great lunch at the same location. But that was okay with us as we know this business is their livelihood. We also weren't able to see a presentation when we were in Istanbul so it was quite interesting. After a long 8 hour excursion, we were dropped off in Kusadasi then headed to a restaurant for an authentic Turkish dinner.Athens - We had arranged a private tour of Athens with Jordan Ntaioglou and shared it with another couple we met through Cruise Critic. He was highly recommended on the boards and we were very lucky to secure him. Jordan is a very funny and informative guide. He is so proud of his Greek culture and was very happy to educate us about Greek history. Prior to stopping at each site, he would give us a brief explanation of the site as well as the history of its existence. He would then drop us off to allow us to spend time at the site as well as for some photos. After returning back to the cab he would quiz us on what we learned. He sure kept us on our toes! He took us to many of the main Athens sites as well as a chance to see the changing of the guard. It was a warm day, and by the end of it, we were "ruined" out! The highlight of the tour was when he took us to an authentic Greek taverna for lunch. The food was probably the best tasting food we had on the entire trip! As much as we loved our tour guide and visiting the Acropolis, we probably wouldn't visit Athens again. We found it to be too smoggy and dirty, and on a warm and crowded day at the ruins, it is not very enjoyable.Naples/Capri - With this being the last day before the end of the cruise we made this another lazy port day. Having been to Italy before, we decided to go to Capri again. We took an early hydrofoil to Capri at around 8:30AM. Got to the island and immediately bought our return ticket back for 2:30PM. Luckily there were no huge lines for the funicular. Once we were up at the top, we had some delicious pastries and espresso with our table mates from Blu. We then walked lazily around the town for a little souvenir shopping and visited the gardens of Augustus for some photos. As the day progressed, there were more and more people on the island. So, we skipped lunch, had some gelato then headed back down the funicular to catch the hydrofoil back to the ship for a late lunch at the Mast Grill. We were so in the mood for burgers!THE GYM/SPA:With all the food we were eating, we thought it would be good to spend some time in the gym. I enrolled in 3 spin classes (@ $12 per class) while my wife spent some time on the treadmill. The machines were never crowded and there seemed to always be availability.Following our day in Capri, we headed back to the ship early and took advantage of the 50% discount they had on spa treatments. We each had the hot stone massage and thought it was one of the best massages we've ever had. The great thing is that I never got a sales pitch for product. However, my wife did and promptly said "no".ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES:There were 3 main shows. Two of them seemed to be your run-of-the-mill variety cruise show. We were happy to see that the Broadway review show featured some of the more modern musical pieces. But I think a lot of the guests just had no idea. We saw a lot of blank stares when one of the singers sang a song from Wicked. The Solstice show was pretty unique. It was Cirque du Soleil'ish but definitely not as good. The singing and vocal quality for the shows were just okay. But we have to give credit to the two principal dancers that were very good and were seen in all three shows.Oceans 4 was great, but we got tired of hearing them every night after the main shows. There were 3 other guest headliners playing; one a former broadway actor who was pretty good. He sang excerpts from various musicals and some standards. The other headliner was a vocalist/impressionist/comedian. I didn't care for her at all. The final headliner was a juggler whom we did not see.Surprisingly there was a lot to do in the evenings. There was a dance band "Top Secret" playing in the Sky Lounge until midnight almost every night. We enjoyed listening and dancing along with them but many retired early because of the early morning ports the following day. Spoke with the lead singer of the band and this sailing marked the end of thier contract. So not sure who's replacing them.To our surprise, Quasar was a happening spot (second to the martini bar)! Quasar was packed on a couple of the nights and we enjoyed meeting people there for drinks and dancing until 2:00AM on the nights before sea days. I think the large youthful international presence on board made for a great nightlife. One of our favorite days at sea was at the lawn club. We met so many great people and decided to meet up for some bocce and drinks. Pre-cruise, I personally didn't care much for the lawn based on reviews I've read, but now we are so happy with it. It is probably one of the best features this ship has to offer. That sea day spending time with new friends on the lawn will be one to remember.We later met up with the same people for some drinks at the martini bar. We ordered a few drinks including the flight of 6 which made for a great show.My wife sang karaoke one night and was called to compete in the "Starring You" competition as one of the top 6! We were so excited even though she was a little anxious to perform in front of 100's of people. She did a great job singing but unfortunately did not make it to the top 3. We had so much fun, and it was also a great way to get to meet new people who stopped us in the hallways, elevators, and lounges to congratulate her for a job well done.THE STAFF:Throughout the cruise, we had a lot of chances to talk to many of the wonderful staff members. These included the dining staff, entertainers, concierge, housekeeping, etc. These discussions were not about, "I need this" or "please bring me that". These discussions were about them and their lives. They have such a difficult job of making sure that we are all safe and taken care of. And regardless of their personal situations, they always put a smile on their face and always provided us with great service. We have much respect for them and for all the crew on Solstice.The last night of the cruise, we were quite surprised to get a call from one of the activities staff members to get together for some drinks. We met up with several of the activities coordinators in Quasar where we had some champagne and had a chance to talk about our cruise experience. It was great to get to know these folks on a more personal level and gathering also offered us a chance to let them know of how appreciative we are of the great job they were doing in bringing life to the guests. One interesting bit of info....turns out a lot of the staff on Solstice may be getting transfered to Equinox.HOT TOPICS:Dress CodeFormal nights were great on this sailing. It makes for a different buzz throughout the ship. My wife and I enjoy getting dressed up. We rarely get a chance to do this with two kids at home. And I work in a very casual environment. So this is something we enjoy doing. I wore a tux on both formal nights and my wife wore long dresses. I would say a good 50% of the men were in tuxes and the rest in dark suits. The women were all dressed very elegantly. Didn't see anything outside of the dress code on formal nights in the dining room.Smart casual nights was a different story. Keep in mind however that this sailing had a very international crowd. Lots of folks from South America and Europe. So, the definition of smart casual and their interpretation varied widely.In regards to the Cruise Critic hot topic of jeans on smart casual nights, I was able to get clarification from guest relations and also from the Maitre 'd at Blu. To set things straight for those on Cruise Critic, jeans are okay in the main dining rooms on smart casual nights and fall are under the definition of "pants". None of the documentation or cruise dailies mention anything about not wearing jeans. The pants just can't be torn, faded, or have holes. It was in the minority but I saw plenty of well dressed folks wearing dark jeans in the dining rooms. Women wore them with heels and nice blouses. Men wore them with blazers. We partook in the jean wearing trend on a couple of the nights. Put together well, we think it looks very nice and fits with the overall theme and decor of the ship. Go to any nice restaurant in Europe and this is what you'll see. But for the most part, we saw lots of what we call "casual office wear" (slacks/khakis and dress shirts and polos). In fact those that wore Hawaiian shirts and khakis were those that seem to stand out in a crowd...especially with this being a Mediterranean cruise. In the end, no one seemed to really care who was wearing what on smart casual nights. Everyone was there to have a good time.DEBARKATION:Debarkation was quick and painless. A few days prior, we received a questionnaire asking about our transport arrangements. We had arranged an early transfer back to our hotel in Rome so had a 7:15 debarkation time. BTW, we stayed 2 nights at Albergo del Senato post cruise. It's a great hotel! Despite the small rooms, it was a great location. Our room with a view of the Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda was amazing! The buffet breakfast they offer in the morning is also pretty extensive for Rome hotel. The per diem is a little pricey but well worth it for the location and view. X FOR A NEW GENERATION:My general impression of these new class of ships is that if X is trying to market to an new demographic, they are doing the right thing with the Solstice class. It's no doubt that the annoying complaints we heard on the ship from some seasoned X cruisers are due to "changes from the norm". But we were hinted by a few staff that in order to maintain a stronghold in the industry there are some changes in the works as X is working hard to revamp and re-establish their image from a line that caters to baby-boomers and above to a line for a new generation with more expendable income and different needs and expectations. At the same time they still aim to be a cut above the rest. Perhaps X now stands for "X-Generation"...We were so happy with our cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the ship and what it had to offer. This sailing has a diverse itinerary with ports offering a great history lesson on ancient civilizations, the Ottoman empire, and a taste of the Muslim culture. Along with it a splash of some beautiful ports for leisure and relaxation. Solstice brings a fresh new look different from what one would expect from a traditional megaliner. The food was excellent and the service was great. Sure, there were some minor bumps we encountered. But we are all human and with time, things will improve or change. It certainly was the best vacation that we've had to date. To top it off, we've made so many new friends and hope to be in touch with them for years to come. Gotta love those social networking sites. The Solstice class is one that we will stick with for a long time. It has the contemporary elegance that we look for in a vacation experience. We've booked our next cruise on Eclipse for Northern Europe and are looking forward to another great time...and to what new changes X has to offer in 2010. Read Less
Celebrity Solstice Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 4.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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