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Sail Date: January 2008
We have been on 28 cruises over the past 15 years and recently completed a two week cruise/trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Upon arrival at Leonardo Di Vinci airport ( which is located some 30 to 45 minutes drive from Rome, depending on ... Read More
We have been on 28 cruises over the past 15 years and recently completed a two week cruise/trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Upon arrival at Leonardo Di Vinci airport ( which is located some 30 to 45 minutes drive from Rome, depending on traffic and 1 hour or more from the port) we were met by our hotel shuttle driver. Rather than stay in Rome, we elected to stay one night at the Hotel Bramante, located near our departure port at Civitavecchia. The Hotel Bramante is a nice, moderately priced (E150.00 per night) clean hotel. The beds were really hard but we were only staying one night and after our long flight from the southwestern USA, they were a welcome sight. The cost of the hotel's shuttle service was E140.00 and well worth it. This was far cheaper than a taxi and because we were a group of six adults the actual cost was a mere E47.00 per couple (E23.50 per person) and the shuttle was able to hold all 12 pieces of our luggage as well. Try putting that in a European Taxi! Once we had rested for a few hours we walked into Civitavecchia for dinner. We had pre-arranged to meet (for the first time) a group of up to twenty of our "Cruise Critic" friends at a wonderful ristorante and pizzeria called "Aqua". We were greeted by the owner and escorted to his large outside covered terrace which was a lovely setting. Aqua had a wonderful Italian wine list (we took 2 bottles on-board ship with us), outdoor dining, and an authentic 350 year old wood burning brick oven. If you like thin crust pizza, you will LOVE this pizza. Our cruise aboard Celebrity Solstice was everything a cruise should be and more. The cabins, the food, the service, the entertainment, the spa, and the public areas were all superlative. We stayed in the aqua class which gave us an upgraded shower and upgraded bath products in our cabin. We also had our own private dining room called Blu and unlimited access to the Persian garden, fitness area and relaxation room. Personally we did not feel that this class was really an upgrade from Celebrity's concierge class and we would not pay extra for this class in the future. Our dining room, Blu, had its' own menu (different from the ship's main dining menu) which offered a leaner menu with smaller portions which were sometimes quite exotic. This forced us to try some things that we probably would not have otherwise tried. Although the food was good, it really didn't suit us, especially my 'meat and potatoes" husband. The specialty dining venues were exceptionally good and really worth the extra charge. I would recommend the Silk Harvest and the Tuscan Grill especially. The ship sponsored tours were, with one exception, excellent and really worth the money. The very best were the Messina (Sicily) Wine and Mt. Etna tour (MY08), the Athens & Cape Sounion with lunch tour (PR03), the Best of Epheses tour (KD04) and the Amalfi Drive and Pompeii tour (NP04). we do not recommend the Village of Oia and Santorini Island tour (SO01) as it was just a bus trip to Oia and a gondola ride ticket back down to the port. These things you could do on your own for a lot less. The village of Oia is worth seeing, however. At the end of our cruise we planned an extra day and night in Italy so that we could see Rome. After researching all of our options for hotels in Rome or near the airport, transportation from the port in Civitavecchia to the hotel and transportation to the airport for a 10:00am flight the following day, meals, and sightseeing in Rome we made the best vacation decision we have ever made. We hired a private tour operator, www.rome-tours.org. Filippo (the owner of the company) picked all six of us up in a nice Mercedes van at the dock in Civitavecchia on the morning of our arrival. He then transported us and all of our luggage to our hotel, the Hotel Club Isola Sacra in Fiumicino which is near the airport. This hotel was clean, moderately priced at E132.00 per night which included the price of the shuttle to the airport the next morning and we would recommend it for a short one or two night stay. The beds and pillows were like bricks and the staff was not very helpful or welcoming and only understood English when it suited them. Filippo, our tour guide, waited while we checked in and deposited all of our luggage. At 11:00am we were all on our way to Rome, which is about a 30 to 45 minute drive depending on traffic from our hotel in Fiumicino. Because of a special Roman Tour Operators license that allows small vehicles to enter the city of Rome, Filippo was able to drive us right up to "the entrance" of many of the magnificent sights of Rome. Our guide was both very knowledgeable and very personable and he spoke excellent English. In one day we toured the Colosseum (with no waiting in line for tickets), th Forum, The Trevi Fountain (both in the day and again at night), ate some really good pizza, toured the Pantheon, Navona and St Peter's Square, The villa Borgase Gardens, The Spanish Steps, the highest spot in Rome (which gave you a fabulous view of the entire city), and lastly ate a fabulous 4 course Italian dinner at Cesare's Ristorante before being returned to our hotel in Fiumincino at 10:00pm. To say the very least, our day and night in Rome was the highlight of our entire trip and would you believe??? It only cost E100.00 each plus the cost of our meals and entry tickets. If you are traveling with a small group of 2 to 8 people "rome-tours.org" is absolutely the way to see Rome. They are also an excellent dock to airport or dock to hotel option from Civitavecchia. This is especially true if you are traveling with a small group as most taxi services (if you are able to find any) are much more expensive and can not accommodate more than 3 people per vehicle (plus the driver) and a very small amount of luggage. If you are interested I believe that "rome-tours.org" also offers excursions to other parts of Italy as well. If you want to have a great Eastern Mediterranean cruise this is the one! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Why do so many cruises start from Rome? Directect air access from Manchester is only available on Jet2 and they start back from Rome in the a.m. which combined with the trek from Civitavecchia to Da Vinci Airport means the check-in time ... Read More
Why do so many cruises start from Rome? Directect air access from Manchester is only available on Jet2 and they start back from Rome in the a.m. which combined with the trek from Civitavecchia to Da Vinci Airport means the check-in time would be hard to guarantee. British Airways don't have direct flights to most of Europe from the North - and we don't want to suffer Heathrow any more so despite a fairly unhappy experience with K.L.M. last year we accepted Celebritys' suggestion of Lufthansa via Munich which turned out fine - all four flights were on time and the luggage was on the carousel. Celebity started well by not only greeting us at Rome but providing trolleys for the luggage - only the most meticulous holiday planner would have brought a Euro for the trolley. As others have reported check-in was astonishingly rapid and our first impression of the ship ---- we were impressed! Our Concierge Class Cabin was not as large as its title implied but was perfectly adequate and well designed. The balcony (because of this cabins' location) seemed larger than most and was well protected from the breeze when at sea. The safety drill was shambolic because of problems with the P.A. system - but for the first time ever we didn't have to wear the Life Jackets. Tables for two are not as rare on Solstice as on most other ships - but 6.15 is too early for dinner, and 8.30 (actually nearer 9.0 p.m.) doesn't leave much time before bed so we look forward to the new open sitting policy (which we enjoyed on Princess). However the Dining Room is the best looking of any ship we have sailed on. We ate here every night except for one visit to the Murano Restaurant - don't know why it has an Italian name because it aims to be French -and it was really good. The steak in the Surf & Turf was incredible, and the lobster was far above the usual cruise ship tasteless offering. We had some excellent meals in the M.D.R.,and the service was first-class. the only downside was the wine - we don't mind paying the ripoff wine markups (much) but it would be nice if the wine was in the same upmarket region as the prices- most of the bottles we tried were of a very poor standard. The Oceanview Cafeteria was well planned,the food was good,and we never had a problem finding a table -top marks to Celebrity again. Entertainment :- the Solo acts - two singers & a violinist were topnotch,the "Broadway"show was O.K. but we have seen better. Where was the mandatory cruise ship comedian? In Michaels Club the Dan Hodge show was well worth a visit - we made several. We have cruised over 25 times and we both rate this as one of the very best - particularly as we got a super deal on the cabin! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Celebrity Solstice...Wow!  This ship was fabulous as was the professionalism and friendliness of their staff.  My husband and I had never been on a cruise preferring to fly into our ports of destinations thinking ships would be too ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice...Wow!  This ship was fabulous as was the professionalism and friendliness of their staff.  My husband and I had never been on a cruise preferring to fly into our ports of destinations thinking ships would be too boring.  We were so wrong!  The Solstice had so many dinner, dancing and event options we could barely keep up.  The entertainment was great and we loved the ship's nighttime shows along with many of the educational classes. The ports of call were well chosen and their access to trains, the metro and bus stop were good though one or two were a half mile or so from where the ship docked.  We good walkers so this was fine for us.  W are also very independent liking to be on our own in port not caring for the large crowds on the ship tours.  We did take two ship tours to see what they were like.  The tour to Delos Island we thought terrific but the one to Pompeii was cut short by first stopping an hour and 20 minutes at cameo factory which left us little time in Pompeii.  All in all, we usually walked, rode trains or the metro and otherwise went independent to utilize our days more fully.Turkey was our favorite port of call both in Istanbul and Kusadasi.  Istanbul was an easy access over the foot bridge to the city.  In Kusadasi we hired a private company called, 'ekol travel', and they exceeded our expectations.  We were met promptly at the ship by a professional and friendly gentleman working for ekol travel named Metin.  He had a large sign clearly printed with our name on it which was a relief.  This tour was to Ephesus, Didyma and Miletos and timed to be away from the large crowds which we appreciated not speaking Turkish.  Metin spoke English quite well making it easy to understand him.  This was a relief as our Greek guide had been difficult to understand.  We felt he and his driver Ferit represented 'ekol travel' expertly with a comfortable, luxurious van that was air conditioned to which we are grateful as it was very hot for us.  We come from the north so the cool air was refreshing.  Also, Metin was quite knowledgeable.  We especially loved his information on the sites, the local dieties and habits of these ancient people.  .  Once again we must express our appreciation for the Celebrity Solstice ship and crew.  We heard from many seasoned cruiser onboard that had cruising 10-20 times that it was the best ship they'd been on too.  We can't wait to sign on again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
I just wanted to drop a few notes on our recent cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This was an 11 night Mediterranean Cruise departing and returning through Rome. Most of what I want to mention are the private tours and transportation but ... Read More
I just wanted to drop a few notes on our recent cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This was an 11 night Mediterranean Cruise departing and returning through Rome. Most of what I want to mention are the private tours and transportation but also a few comments on the Solstice. Previously we have cruised 4 times on Princess. Overally I would say we enjoyed Celebrity as much as Princess although there were a few differences. On Princess we really enjoy the anytime dining which is not available on Celebrity. Overall though it was not a big deal as we enjoyed visiting with the same servers night after night. The one thing we did miss was not having any laundry facilities on board. It would be nice to be able to do some laundry on board with Celebrity but alas there are no washer/dryers. However, all in all if you plan right it is not that big of an issue. We had 2 cabins, 7237 and 7239 which are both balcony. Our teenagers were in one room and we were in the other. Overall the cabins were fine. We only had 1 "issue" which was closet size and positioning. My wife thought the closets were a bit smaller than expected and a little difficult to maneuver around. Overall though we were very happy with our cabins.We had hear quite a bit about the grass area on top of the ship. From our perspective we really liked the grass area. There were activities such as Bocce and Croquet. When you are at home you can play those games, but who really does? We had a lot of fun on the sea days playing a few games like these. By the way, our kids are 17/19 and they too had a lot of fun with these. Alos on top was the Corning Glass Show where they created glass bowls, figures etc. My wife and daughter must have seen about 7 shows, I saw 2. They are very interesting to see. The food was good, service was great, layout of the cruise was spectacular! A mention too about our ship captai,. All I know is he was Greek and named Demetrious. He was the most personable and engaging Captain I have ever heard speak and could probably be a comedian if he wanted. All I can say is if you sail on a ship and he is the Captain dont miss any announcements - they were a gem!A few comments on private tours and transportations.Rome - we used Italy Cab. http://www.italycab.com/  We had a special need in Rome which was going from our hotel in town to the aiport to pick up our son who flew in a couple days after us. In addition to that we used them to pick us up at the port and get us back to the airport. Overall they were excellent. They were on time, professional, courteous and the pricing was very fair. Istanbul - we used Ekol Travel for our private tour. http://www.ekoltravel.com/ We were very happy with their guide, service, delivery, etc. The price included a driver and a guide. I would recommend them.Ephesus (Kusadasi) - again we used Ekol Travel. Once again, excellent. This time I would specifically mention our guides name is Mustafa Orkan Kulak. His direct e mail is orkankulak@hotmail.com All I can say is he was the best guide we had during our trip. Intelligent, Courtous, speaks very good English, Considerate of the time and our needs and just an overall nice person who wants you to enjoy their tour. Athens - we used http://www.athenstaxi.com/ You will see much written about them and the principals name is Paul. They too were excellent. We had on of his sons and orur friends had one of his other sons. Our driver was very professional, courteous, excellent English and just an overall nice person. We enjoyed him very much. You may need a guide at the Acropolis because Athens Taxi is not a licensed guide. If you do get a guide I recommend you ask the guide to give you a 5 minute overview. I say this so you can decide before you pay whether you will like the guide or not and whether their delivery is what you expect. Our guide was not very good. She spoke too fast, felt like she was preaching to us and her delivery left much to be improved on. So, if I do it again, try the guide on before buying.Naples - we used http://www.tourofitaly.com/. Again, these are drivers and not tour guides. We had the father Giovanni. Overall our experience was good. I would use them again. He reommened a guide for us at Pompeii - actually he called him in advance. I dont recall the guides name but we were very happy with him. We did the Pompeii tour early in the morning in jus under 2 hours. If you use Giovanni I would say to ask him to set up a guide for you because he will want to make sure you are happy. The other thing he did which was kind of nice ( we had 6 on the tour) was to provide us 6 bottles of red wine. There was a lot of his advertising on it but we found it was kind of a nice touch. We also visited Santorini and Mykonos. We did not plan anything special there although we did do the Donkey ride to the to the top of the hill to get to town. It is an interesting experience! Overall we had a really nice time on thise cruise and we woudl cruise on Celebrity again. 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
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
Sail Date: May 2009
This is my fourth Cruise. 1st was Carnival to Mexico, 2nd was Windstar to Western Med, 3rd was Windstar to Costa Rica, and now this trip to the Eastern Med on Solstices. My first impression was Wow, big ship. The ship is big, and ... Read More
This is my fourth Cruise. 1st was Carnival to Mexico, 2nd was Windstar to Western Med, 3rd was Windstar to Costa Rica, and now this trip to the Eastern Med on Solstices. My first impression was Wow, big ship. The ship is big, and comfortable. Most of the staff were very nice. The Glass blowing by Corning was outstanding. But... It's not Windstar or Carnival. In both cases OUTSTANDING food. This trip, the food in the main dining room was less then good. Broccoli way over cooked, lousy steak, dry over cooked chicken. Don't get me started on the Salmon. The sauces were over salted or too rich, or just bad. OK so the food was not their main selling point. The interesting thing was the quality of the food in the Ocean View Cafeteria was way better, and much better tasting. When I asked the Brown suited gentleman that was in charge of our section about the food, he got very upset, and said that we were not aloud to complain. I'm sorry, say what? I spoke to customer care, and were very surprised to learn such a rule had been implemented by one of their staff members. As for the other restaurants, it got very expensive, very quickly. At $30 per person, and then add drinks (4 people) it's not something I was interested in especially after both my Windstar experiences and Carnival. The term nicked and dimed comes to mind for the other things. A bottle of beer is $5.75, Coke or Diet Coke was expensive too. But they made a deal for that, For $6+ a day you could buy a cup that would be refilled as much as you liked at any bar. On an 11 day cruise that's $66 worth of Soda pop. Understand, once you buy the cup, you are charged automatically, whether you use it or not. As for the things to do, The glass blowing is very interesting and is a must see. On the other hand the onboard entertainment was painfully BAD!!! That trumpet player must go, he never found the note he was looking for. The dancing was somewhere between silly and stupid. I don't play bingo, so that sort of ends the things to do.The automatic tipping $11.95 a day, means the staff is not busting their butts for the tip.Now to some of you reading this, you might be writing me off as someone who just complains, about everything, because I enjoy complaining. Yes, I know people like that. This is not the case. Though I do not have tons of experience, the people I went with did. Including the Queen Mary II. They too, made the same observations. Indulge me in one more example. The tour I had signed up for was to be for 3:15 min, Starting at 2:45pm and ending at 6pm. OK... They put us in the Solstices forward theater stage area, were the people on stage were cracking jokes and talking. All the while you relies that the tour is almost half over and your still waiting. The every three min this guy comes by trying to sell you a bottle of water for $4.50. The first twenty times you tell him no thank you, does not change his enthusiasm to sell you very over priced water. At 3:45 they start telling us to get ready to go, another 15 min later, we go. So the three hour tour was about 1.5 hours. No refund, no "I'm sorry", no free water. Just an attitude of what do you want me to do about it. I know it's a new ship (first trip was Oct 08) and this was it's first trip in the Med. The GPS in the room was still set to Florida, Why. It's really seamed like nobody was in charge, or the people in charge were over their heads.  Am I just spoiled by the Windstar experience, and this was a normal cruise. Everything I mentioned was "Normal". I hope that's not the case. The Mexico trip was fantastic, the pool and jacuccis were open late, so after you been on shore all day, you get back to the ship, Eat, then relax, drink, swim if you like. The food was outstanding. The people making up the rooms were fun and clever. Did I mention the food was very good.Then Windstar, what can I say... Outstanding food, crazy fun stuff to do, Beach BBQ's swimming off the dive platform. Hang out on the bridge with the Capt. Anytime day or night (except when docking), Kitchen tours, cooking demonstrations and lessons.Something is missing from the Solstice and I would guess it's in the management area. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
On all the essential categories the Solstice scores an A.  The food and specialty restaurants were excellent.  The service from the highest to lowest crew members, was great.  We did not meet one crew member with a negative attitude.  ... Read More
On all the essential categories the Solstice scores an A.  The food and specialty restaurants were excellent.  The service from the highest to lowest crew members, was great.  We did not meet one crew member with a negative attitude.  The decor of the ship is beautiful, and we have been on many ships with at least 15 cruises to date.  Although there were close to 3,000 people on our cruise, it never seemed crowded.  We enjoyed this vacation as much as any cruise we have ever taken.Although I would recommend this ship to anyone, I do have two concerns.  First, the Solstice has done away with a prominode deck that often circles a ship.  Many older guests love to make use of this feature as it brings you up close to the sea in a peaceful walking or reading environment.  What has replaced it is a running track on an upper deck where people are also trying to walk, for relaxation and\or to get to a different part of the ship.  It is a very active zone dividing other parts of the ship.  This area is also near the pool.  Together this makes a mixed venue that I believe is very unsafe and is trying to cater to walkers and runners.  It just doesn't work. Second, Celebrity had a fine program on all ships to encourage the booking of a new cruise, (an advantage for the cruise line and the guest).  You would have made a down payment of $200 and received an on board credit based on the days of the cruise.  You were allowed to switch from one cruise to another if you were unsure of your original cruise choice, at the time of this special booking.  In unbelievable corporate short sightedness Celebrity recently changed the rules.  Now if you changed your ship booking, the down payment jumps from $200 to $900.  Inspite of the hard work of many many crew members as cited above, the poor judgement of management gets a grade of F. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Embarkation was pretty easy, no stress, or fuss, very quick and soon we were on board and exploring this beautiful lady of the seas. The state room was smaller than I expected, after being informed that Solstice staterooms in Aqua class ... Read More
Embarkation was pretty easy, no stress, or fuss, very quick and soon we were on board and exploring this beautiful lady of the seas. The state room was smaller than I expected, after being informed that Solstice staterooms in Aqua class were much larger than normal. The problem is, the foot of the bed has this rounded portion which has nothing to do with the  comfort of the bed, it just takes up more space. The balcony also was an odd shape, very deep  and being on the corner makes it impossible to stand against the rail as the wind is always too strong. other than that the  bedroom is fine, bed extremely comfortable and nice fluffy pillows.Food.Dining was a nice experience, except, I may have misunderstood about where we would be dining, when I booked Main sitting I expected to be seated in the main dining room and that Blu's was an alternative to Grand Epernay not that Blu's was where we would be seated for all our meals. I must comment on our wait staff in Blu's, Pawal Novak; was exceptional in every way.The food imy opinion was average, breakfast was a disappointment, eggs over cooked, and I preferred after the first day to eat breakfast in the Oceans buffet where there was a huge selection of averything and eggs cooked any way you desired.Shows in the theatreEntertainment was average, the Cruise director did his best to keep things rolling along but sometimes was a bit boring.The ShipIs very big, rarely seemed crowded except around the pool deck, there was never any time when you could go to the pool deck and not find dozens od items left sitting on loungers " keeping" places for people, even though it had been stated that this was not to be done. although I would have liked to use the pool there was no opportunity to do so, unless I wanted to swim during the dinner hours.ComparisonsCompared to RC's Brilliance of the seas, Solstice is much more futuristic, almost minimalistic. the Centrum is a great disappointment, it's blah! when you look down on the centrum from a high floor on Brilliance you see a beautiful  glow of color, and classic elegance, on Solstic you see an odd shape holding a tree?  very dull. Although I know cleanliness was a must while the swine flu scare was going on. and of course at any time where touching food is involved, to be constantly told time and time again by a young crew member the use sanitizing gells provided at the entrance to the Oceans buffet was a bit much,  being treated like naughty children was how my husband put it. when, if we wanted to use a different entrance than the main one we would not have been accosted by the crew memberBars.... The Martini Bar is a MUST  The waiters are full of fun, and very talented when it comes to mixing drinks. the other drinking areas around the ship are all very good. There is plenty to do if you want to party and plenty of nice places to just have a quiet nightcap before bed.Around the ship. At any given time you can always find a spot to have a quiet nap or read a book, and you can also find plenty to keep you busy on sea days, there is a huge amount to do if you want to keep busy. In all Celebrity Solstice is a big handsome modernistic ship. if you want the classical look stick to Royal Caribbean.Ports of call Santorini.Be prepared if you decide to walk down the steep cliff path, it's hard walking covered with Donkey poop and very steep with cobbled street. the ride up or down on a donkey is hazardous to say the least. and the cable car is the best way to go up or down. Santorini is not for the faint at heart, lots of up and down hill walking. you cann rent a cart for half a day for $40. but be warned the roads are full of inexperienced people riding scooters. and there seems to be no rules of the road when driving.Mykonos. pretty much the same as Santorini, very pretty place, lots of tourists nd it's all about getting you to part with you hard earned dollar. so be warnedIstanbull. Huge city, very busy, book a tour with Ekol travel, great guides, reasonable prices. good shopping lots of bargaining to be done to get a good deal on just about everything. wonderful sightseeing to be done. a must on any cruise.Athens. Once again a great place for sightseeing, be prepared for a long hard hike up the hill to the Acropollis but well worth it. make sure you wear comfortable  shoes for the walking around Athens.Capri. I could not believe how busy it was there. I expected a sleepy fishing village not a bustling high priced high fashion center, with millions of people everywhere, I was greatly disapointed. The bus ride up to the village  was littl more then a death ride up a mountain, people are squeezed into a small bus until there is no room to breath and then MORE people are allowed on the bus. not a pleasant experience and the ride up and down the hill is scary.Last time I was in Naples we rented a car, went to Pompii, drove the whole area an had a wonderful day,  and wish we had done the same again.OverallThe cruise was  a good experience we met some wonderful new friends. and had a great time overall. 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
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
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
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
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
I read the reviews about Solstice religiously before we left.  Also, my parents who are Elite members on Celebrity sailed the Solstice in December and were extremely disappointed.  So my husband and I boarded the ship with great ... Read More
I read the reviews about Solstice religiously before we left.  Also, my parents who are Elite members on Celebrity sailed the Solstice in December and were extremely disappointed.  So my husband and I boarded the ship with great anticipation-would we be disappointed as well?The answer is NO!  We absolutely loved the ship.  Yes, it has a more modern flair to it than other Celebrity ships but we didn't mind.  We loved the layout of the ship, it was so easy to get around.  We could tell that Celebrity is definitely attempting to attract a younger passenger demographic and it looks like it is working.  Also, even though the ship was full (we overheard when we checked in), we rarely if ever founded crowded places.  The Martini bar was very busy and we do wish they'd open the martini bar earlier in the day as it is a fun stop when walking around the ship.The Martini Bar and Quasar lounge were new and different and very enjoyable.  We loved the lawn and spent a lot of time there after we'd return to the ship from port.  It was a very relaxing place to be.  We were concerned about a little Italian bird that seemed to have found its way to the grass.  It kept looking for worms but it wasn't that kind of lawn!  We think the bird found its way off the ship in Greece and found real food.We also watched the glass blowing show which was very interesting.  They truly have professionals blowing and crafting the glass.  One of the guys used to work for Waterford in Ireland!  Great talent abound at this show and it's not to be missed!Our cabin was bigger than Millennium class ships by about 3 ft and boy, the 3 ft made the room seem so much bigger!  Our cabin was 7161 and our balcony was at an angle and maybe a tad larger than others because of the angle.  Our bed was closer to the balcony instead of closer to the door which I didn't think I'd like but both my husband and I loved it.  It was wonderful to be able to just turn our heads and see the ocean.  There was plenty of storage space for a 10 day cruise and I mean it when I say that.  No matter how hard we try, we always seem to pack too much but we found a place for everything.  Don't forget about the storage above the bed!  Our only complaint about our cabin was the safe.  Only a 2 year old would find it at the right height.  It was very low to the ground and we had to get on our hands and knees and really stick our heads in the safe to find what we needed.  I did forward this feedback to Celebrity that they should really raise the safe height to accommodate that of an average size adult on future Solstice class ships.The shows were very modern in the Solstice Theater and we enjoyed all of them.  Forgive me as I already forgot her name, but the female impersonator was excellent in her impersonations and the comedian (first name Troy) was absolutely hilarious and clean.  Our main complaint and we echo the sentiment of many others is the food.   In the Grand Epernay, the food was just pathetic and so unlike the other Celebrity ships we've sailed.  Dining on other Celebrity ships was an event that we always looked forward to every evening and it was not to be missed.  We opted out of eating in the MDR several nights and had no regrets.  We checked the menu and there wasn't anything on it what we wanted so missing dinner in the MDR was not a problem.  New menu options:  meatloaf and spaghetti.  PLEASE!  We are cruising to try new and different food that is a luxury to eat; NOT something we can easily make at home.  Our waiter did tell us that due to the larger size of Solstice, it just wouldn't be possible to have the same process in the galley.  I understand his point but the waiters are still delivering some sort of food and the quality in the MDR on the Solstice really, really needs to improve.  Being CC members, we toured the galley and it is definitely the biggest galley we've toured.  I think if Solstice makes it a priority, they can improve the quality of their food options with just a little effort.Speaking of food, the buffet food was delicious.  We ate there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at various times during our cruise.  We always felt there were enough options that we didn't even repeat our choices.  Maybe our expectations were less for the buffet but we were always satisfied with the food we chose.  It was tasty and the right temperature.  We also fell in love with their sushi which they begin to serve at 6 p.m. every night.  If you love sushi, don't miss it!We also ate at the burger/nacho/taco bar near by the pool deck and their food was also good.We tried all 3 of the specialty restaurants and here are our thoughts:Silk Harvest-every bite was delicious.  We misunderstood our sushi order though.  We chose 2 different kinds of sushi and our waiter asked if we wanted 4, 6, or 8.  We chose 8 because we thought that meant we'd get 4 of each kind but we received 8 of each kind.  We also ordered 3 large entrees but a smaller portion.  Our waiter kept saying he could bring us more but the portions were so big, we couldn't possibly finish any of them.  The food there was decadent and the "Asian fusion" Solstice is attempting works well.  My only complaint are the ants painted on the floor as you walk towards all of the specialty restaurants.  It always gave me the willies as I despise bugs and it wasn't appetizing to walk through EVER.  Please get rid of those ants Solstice.  Tuscan Grille-exceptional steaks.  I had the filet mignon, my husband had a ribeye.  Every bite was mouth watering and we savored every moment of our meal there.  From salad to dessert, each morsel was perfectly prepared.  If we sail a Solstice ship again, we will make sure we have reservations here!Murano-things didn't start off great here.  I called CC to make reservations here before we boarded.  They said due to system issues, look for confirmation in our cabin once we board.  We received that confirmation for an 8 p.m. dinner time.  The night before our dinner in Murano, we received a confirmation card for 7:30 p.m.  We really wanted to see the comedian Troy whom I mentioned earlier and thought we could catch most of his act beginning at 7:15.  So I called to see why our reservation changed and there wasn't an explanation and the 8 p.m. time was full.  So we went at 7:30 and asked our waiter to rush the service because we wanted to catch Troy at 9 p.m. then.  Our waiter did his best to serve us quickly and I imagine we would have enjoyed our experience more if we gave the experience the time it deserved.  However, since they messed up our reservation, we didn't have much choice.  Every menu item in Murano is very rich.  We both enjoyed a salad and then a Cappucino Mushroom soup which really was to die for.  They say have a soup or salad because of how rich every course is but the choices looked so good, we had both.  We ordered filet mignon and it was prepared table side.  However, the gravy/sauce they used gave the filet a beef stew flavor and texture.  Don't mess with filet mignon Murano, it's the best piece of beef one can have all on its own.  I personally preferred the filet mignon in Tuscan Grille much more.  I think our waiter overhead me making the same comment to my husband and he offered me another entree but time was of the essence and I couldn't possibly have eaten another entree.  The service and attentiveness of the staff in all of the specialty restaurants was outstanding.  Our waiter in MDR was extraordinary as well.  He didn't prepare food, just delivered it.Shore excursions:  they have a new process to have you meet in a common area, usually the Solstice theater.  You are given a number for your bus that you are to wear and you wait for the staff to call the number and then proceed off the ship to meet your bus.  We really liked this process as it seems less congested then getting off the ship and they trying to find your shore excursion guide.Lastly, I want to add a note about embarkation and disembarkation.  Embarkation was chaotic.  We were on one of several buses that came directly from the airport to Solstice.  We were told we had to sit down and not stand anywhere (who wants to sit after being on a plane for 9 + hours?) and wait for our number to be called.  Meanwhile, the staff that checks you in would hold up all sorts of numbers that meant they were available not that they could help the number you were given and told to wait for.  It also didn't matter if you were CC or AQ, you had to sit and wait for your number.  It was a really irritating experience.  Let folks just stand in line, at least we know we're on our way. Disembarkation went perfectly.  We were again told where to meet on the ship and what time.  We were then ushered off the ship and luggage was easy to find. Read Less
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
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
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: 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
My daughter and I did just spend a very enjoyable 10 nights on Solstice to start June. a fine cruise, although not everything was seamless, of course. For example, I can't understand why Celebrity had me fill out all those online ... Read More
My daughter and I did just spend a very enjoyable 10 nights on Solstice to start June. a fine cruise, although not everything was seamless, of course. For example, I can't understand why Celebrity had me fill out all those online forms (for credit card usage, for allowing my daughter to drink, etc.) and then turned around and made me fill them all out again when we checked in. Just a minor irritant, but it seemed so avoidable unless they had lost their online data (which they then could have admitted).I can say overall I was very impressed with the ship and its crew. The public spaces may have been less in the "I'm aboard a ship" style, but they were gorgeous. The stateroom was beautiful plenty large enough, designed to make the most of the space. My first reaction was to immediately unpack all our bags into the closet and drawers, since ten nights at sea spelled "home" to me, unlike the vast majority of my land vacations. This is certainly the feeling the ship would like to inspire, as we were always welcomed back after a long, hot day of excursions with a cold drink, an iced towel and, "Welcome home!" I must say, it worked for me, as I did feel like I had come home when I returned to the ship.More specific critiques. I have little but praise for our room steward. Top notch. We did get a couple unexpected entries into the room while there, one when we probably would have been expected to be elsewhere, one when the "Do Not Disturb" sign was very much in place (although this wasn't our normal steward). The whole logistics involved in taking care of all those staterooms must be a science in itself. The same must be said for dining. The Grand Epernay is obviously an example of scientifically controlled mayhem—two shifts of dining on two different floors, yet there was never a feeling of "crowd control" except the first night when everyone needed to find their seat assignments. Dining was one of the few places where you realized that their were enough passengers onboard to populate a fair-sized town, but approaching our table was always a matter of avoiding the rapidly-scurrying wait staff, not being caught in a queue of fellow travelers. Because of the marvelous job with crowd flow, it is a testament to their work that the primary criticism of the dining experience has been somewhat less-than-hot entrEes. Yes, I agree, I would very much prefer not having to send food back for reheating, but I wasn't aghast. (I think it was more telling the first night when the crème brûlEe really should have just been called custard, since they obviously didn't have the time to melt the sugar on top of what could be a thousand or so identical desserts.) I must say, unlike some other reviews, we had the most wonderful wait staff, with personable, attentive servers who attended to the table promptly and never seemed overly delayed in the delivery of the next course. The one more serious issue. As a first timer, I did go to Customer Relations several times with questions. Early on when returning my Disembarkation Questionnaire, I was told they had been informed that there would be no train service from Civitavecchia when we returned after the cruise. And no taxis in town (well, maybe five or six). But we can sell you very high-priced city transfers, so get it quickly so you will be able to return to Rome. OK, I grumbled and paid up. Later at dinner, our dinner companions, who also planned to go by train, had no knowledge of this rather important situation and cast doubt on its veracity. So off the Customer Relations again—where they told me that everyone had either been personally informed, or they had a message waiting for them in their room. Oh, OK. The next evening? Our companions had still heard nothing, which really concerned me, so we started plotting our own shared ride. When I approached Customer Relations again with this news, they admitted they'd gotten it wrong and that the trains would run as usual. Unfortunately I have the feeling I wouldn't have been told this, but would have been allowed to take the expensive, inconvenient transfer instead. And so I cancelled my transfers. Or so I was told, until I returned to Customer Relations with a later bill where the charges still remained. This time they told me I needed to bring in my purchase paperwork to cancel the order—but again, I would not have been told this. I wasn't too happy about it this time, which prompted the attendant to make a joke about getting the previous person fired, which I thought REALLY hit a wrong note. So long story short: Celebrity, you need to work seriously on communications, especially when it involves shifting information about something of rather vital importance.Other admittedly nit-picking items. 1) The library was a very nice place to read, but what thrift store did they visit to stock the shelves? I'm not asking for a comprehensive library, but having old encyclopedia year books and the third books in trilogies without the first two (yes, I checked on the first day) made it appear the library was just a pretty prop. It does seem that, if you are going to do it, you want to do it right. 2) About the same with the game room: a nice space, but after the first day all the playing cards were gone as well as any popular board games—my daughter wanted Scrabble so I guess we were supposed to grab it that first night, as it never reappeared again—so maybe someone should be assigned to keep the room stocked? 3) The TV interactive information system for Ship Location was worthless. Why show GPS location on a stylized map with an unlabeled single line designating a coastline? I was looking forward to keeping track of our course, knowing what islands we were passing, essentially visualizing where we were in the Mediterranean. I had to track down the Atlas in the library to make a guess. How about a basic contract with Google Maps? Favorites. I'll only bring up the spaces we used most. Top location? The Solarium, with a nice pool and jacuzzi, a fountain and quiet music. I would have liked the cruise to go longer just to lounge here. Best lounge? The Sky Observation Lounge, especially when the music didn't get too loud. Alternate dining? We only tried the Bistro on Five, which did make very good crepes, so I would recommend it. We also ate plenty in the Oceanview Cafe, which had very satisfying buffet food (and gave us the ice cream and pizza we needed after excursions as a snack before dinner!). And I have to make a plug for the Fortunes Casino, since I did win a fair amount—some of the crew were a bit inexperienced at the craps table so you had to watch your payoffs, but I didn't come expecting Vegas.OK, enough said. I feel like my negatives stand out more than my positives, but in fact they were the small details in the midst of a most pleasant experience. I will want to do this again, perhaps with an itinerary that is not so port-of-call heavy so I can relax in the Solarium more often ... Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
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
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: 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
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
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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