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134 Celebrity Solstice Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We were 2 couples with 3 of us celebrating our 60th birthdays this year. We had sailed on Celebrity Silhouette last year on a Western Mediterranean and so decided to celebrate by doing an Eastern one on the Solstice this year. We were ... Read More
We were 2 couples with 3 of us celebrating our 60th birthdays this year. We had sailed on Celebrity Silhouette last year on a Western Mediterranean and so decided to celebrate by doing an Eastern one on the Solstice this year. We were not disappointed although we thought the Silhouette was a little nicer. We did like the added attraction on this ship of the hot glass blowing and attended about 5 of their shows. We liked the life's lessons shared by the captain each day and enjoyed Alejandro as the cruise director. The food was good, the entertainment okay, but the itinerary of ports was excellent. With the help of Cruise Critic members and other sources, advanced planning really paid off. Here are some highlights of what we did: BARCELONA - spent 3 days pre-cruise at Marina View B&B Great place to stay! We did the 2 tours offered by Runner Bean Walking Tours which we also highly recommend. We booked our tickets online for Sagrada Familia with a time of 30 minutes following the end of our Gaudi tour. That worked out well, as the line for tickets was at least a 2 hour wait. CANNES, FRANCE - rented a car from Hertz and drove to St. Paul de Vence and followed Rick Steve's driving tour through the Gordes area. LIVORNO, ITALY - rented a car with Sifracar and drove to San Gimignano and over to Volterra. Enjoyed very much the Tuscany area. ROME - took the train from port into Rome Walked to Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain (tossed in our coins) and Pantheon with stops for gelato (try Giolitti's and Grom). Booked ahead tickets for Le Domus Romane which is an excellent exhibit--one of the top attractions on Trip Advisor NAPLES - took the hydrofoil to Capri, and then rode in the open air taxi up to Anacapri where we walked around and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and weather.KOTOR,MONTENEGRO - hired Milo, the taxi driver recommended on Cruise Critic who met us at the port and took us on a 4 hour drive around Montenegro--very scenic VENICE - took the vaporetto to Burano, ate gelato at Grom's, and did the 2 hour Row Venice excursion with Jane which was one of the highlights of our cruise. Absolutely loved the sail in and out at this port! DUBROVNIK - took a 2 hour taxi panorama tour which included a drive to Cavtet. Ate lunch at the Komarda restaurant and walked the wall. Another wonderful day as they all were! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
My husband and I went on our 2nd Celebrity cruise 27 August to 8 September 2012. Apart from Venice, where it rained on both occasions we have visited, the weather was perfect. It was a wonderful itinerary as all the ports were beautiful. ... Read More
My husband and I went on our 2nd Celebrity cruise 27 August to 8 September 2012. Apart from Venice, where it rained on both occasions we have visited, the weather was perfect. It was a wonderful itinerary as all the ports were beautiful. The Solstice is a very stable ship and even when we had storms on a couple of nights, I did not feel the ship moving. Our first time on Celebrity was the Constellation. Both are lovely ships and did not disappoint. The crew were excellent - friendly, polite and nothing was too much trouble. The ship was very clean and the whole ship deserved its 5 stars. We did notice some changes though, mainly with the food. We had 1st seating in the restaurant on a table of 10 and they were a good mix of really lovely people. The meat dishes were excellent and the steaks were huge and perfectly cooked. However, every night the vegetables were the same and the overall menu was quite limited. I wasn't really tempted by the desserts which were mostly the same each night. The buffet restaurant, although very good quality food, was also the same every day and very often most of the buffet areas were roped off and cleared away quite quickly, making choice even more limited. The other criticism is the entertainment. Once the show in the theatre was over there was very little else to do (everyone seemed to be complaining about this). There were plenty of bars but most were almost empty as there was little or no entertainment. If you decided to stay on the ship during the ports of call, again there was very little effort made by the entertainment crew. We had a drinks package, which we highly recommend, as the drinks were lovely. My husband had the premium package and I had the non-alcoholic package which meant he enjoyed the beer and working his way down the list of cocktails in the Molecular Bar and I could enjoy the speciality coffees and fresh orange juice. These packages definitely paid for themselves and are one of the reasons why we like to sail with Celebrity. The port excursions were very expensive and we did not use them, preferring to make our own arrangements. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. Our cabin was ready as soon as we boarded and our suitcases arrived very quickly. On Celebrity Constellation there was an entertainer called Perry Grant who performed in Michael's Club and this lounge was packed every night. However, on the Solstice, Michael's Club was empty every time we passed by. I think the Solstice would benefit from someone like Perry Grant. I know that not everyone wants to be entertained but my husband and I do, and that is one of the reasons we like cruises, so we can enjoy the evening entertainment. If the Solstice had had a 'Perry Grant' it would have been perfect. We would definitely sail with Celebrity again but it would very much depend on the itinerary and the price. Another point before I finish, a lot of people were frustrated that although they had paid their tips at the time of booking their cruise, no envelopes were provided with vouchers, to give to the crew to show that these had been pre-paid, and we felt we had to give our waiters and cabin stewards 'extra' tips, making this very expensive. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Our family had only taken 1 cruise trip before, so we were looking forward to an upscale trip on the Celebrity Solstice. The ship is absolutely spectacular. The common spaces were gorgeous! The martini bar had shaved ice on the top. The ... Read More
Our family had only taken 1 cruise trip before, so we were looking forward to an upscale trip on the Celebrity Solstice. The ship is absolutely spectacular. The common spaces were gorgeous! The martini bar had shaved ice on the top. The wine area was very comfortable. The library had plenty of books to chose from provided you were an adult (no kids books here). The service was spotty! Dinner service was not what we had expected from this cruise. Our server was very nice, but had no culinary knowledge and could not provide us with good advise on what to pick for dinner nor could he describe correctly what we were ordering. The bar service people rarely came by, so if you are having dinner at the main dining hall, bring your drink with you from one of the bars. The service at the pool was also not great. The servers rarely stopped to ask if you needed a drink, they just walked around the deck with prepared drinks not inquiring who needed something to drink. Cruise staff: we never saw the cruise director anywhere! Nor the Maitre D'. If you wanted to see the cruise director you either had to go to the theater where he presented information or watch him on tv. I found most of the crew to be rather off standish. The port shopping person was fine, but his office hours were only 5- 7 pm during the day. Cabin: Very comfortable, although there was not enough closet space to store our stuff. We had a balcony and it was perfect size for the 2 adults + 1 kid we had. The cabin staff was very friendly and helpful. Ports; We loved Santorini, Kudasai(Ephesus) and Naples. Istanbul was also fun, but we really did not have much time to see it all. There is not much to see in Delos - I would advise seeing Ephesus + AThens sites instead. Dinner/Food: The food at the dinning hall was not as good as I had expected. They only load food at Rome, so by the time you get to the 8th day the fruits are not as good anymore. Every fish entree we ordered we had to return. The chinese pork dinner was inedible - hard and tough to eat. The food at the informal dining area was ok. Pleanty of choices - not all of them good! To me there was too much to chose from yet not enough quality on any of it. Desserts were not good - except for Chocolate Ice cream and some chocolate desserts and pistachio dessert. Creme brulee was aweful! Tender Ports: When they tell you to line up for tender tickets at 9 am beware people are lining up starting at 7:30 am. We ended up waiting 1.5 hours to get off the ship in Santorini after following the advise of the cruise staff to be at the line at 9 am. Laundry - there is no self service laundry on this ship. Wait till the 9th day for a special $24.50 for a bag of laundry. Otherwise you'll end up paying $40+ to wash your undergarments. Embarcation/Disembarcation: They open the embarcation at 11 am and let you on the ship by 12. Your luggage gets delivered to your cabin by 2 pm. Disembarcation they tell you to plan flights after 11 am. You honestly can get off the boat by 7 am and make an earlier flight. We actually docked in Civitavechhia at 3 am. Other dining areas: WE HEARD THE REST OF THE RESTAURANTS IN THE BOAT WERE GREAT, BUT WE DID NOT GO TO THEM. Kids program: Had to pay for them to have dinner and lunch! I found this to be ridiculuous. We had already paid for this when we bought our tickets. Theater shows: did not see any except for the first two. We all fell asleep - not very entertaining at all. Kids teen club - my son who is 16 years old had a fabulous time hanging out with the rest of the teens. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
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
Not to be long winded, The food in the main dinging room was uninspired and marginal The waiter was slow and non-responsive The assistant waiter had personality, ran to serve, and should have been the head waiter The ... Read More
Not to be long winded, The food in the main dinging room was uninspired and marginal The waiter was slow and non-responsive The assistant waiter had personality, ran to serve, and should have been the head waiter The rooms were great, but the technology sucked. TV's in both rooms (Suites) did not function, the GPS and cameras never worked, the internet was down most of the time we tried, and the onboard accounting system was days behind The pool and jacuzzi closed way too early and they were way too undersized for such a large boat The green was closed alot and you could not even putt on the green, which is one reason my boys were not happy The kids club and teen room were closed all the time, and did not have the services advertised The soda plan worked well, and we did not have carry those dopey glasses around The entertainment in the theater was lousy, lousy, lousy, I have seen better in a Club Med, where the people are not trained to entertain The entertainment in the rest of the ship was great, only problem they quit just as the evening was getting started. Not everyone eats at old people time (6:00). The cruise director told me that the target market for this boat was families with older (teen) children. Guess what, they missed this completely. my children do not mind a little classical music (violin, etc.) only problem was that the music ended before cocktails and dinner, and the shows had odd hours that if you ate late you were screwed to see the shows though we did not miss much, in our opinion. Never quite figured out what the purpose of the butler was. He really didn't do much, it was the cabin attendant who seemed to work and always be outside our door. Field trips/excursions were OK, but where were the ones for people under 75? Jet skiing, snorkeling/diving, parasailing, hiking, climbing, beach, boating, sailing, golf, tennis, shooting, all day trips with climbing or as the brochure says "Strenuous" stuff, etc.. The most "strenuous" thing was climbing a few steps on the bus. Their problem is that with no teen type activities, no teens should be on this boat, hence they are not really marketing to who they say they are "families", just couples and old people. We did like embarkation and disembarkation, this process was fairly painless, with the exception of trying to get my daughter a drinking ID as she was 19, and allowed to have a glass of wine with dinner (After living in France for many years this is standard practice) The specialty restaurants were for the most part the only place to have a decent dinner. I agree with other opinionaters, the buffet had better food. The Asian restaurant needs to learn how to make and serve sushi, it was terrible, the French had the best food and service on the entire boat. The rooms were nice, but we had suites, so I can not say what the others must be like, and the baths were bigger than we thought they would be. The photo shop/photographers did a decent job, but don't buy anything until the last day as they lower the prices significantly rather than through the stuff out. The would be better served to have a way to view your photos without having to print and throw away so many photos, which also means less chemicals, etc. in the environment. We thought drink prices were fairly moderate, and we brought our own "special" liquor on board. They said they would confiscate it, but never even looked, just xrayed and let it past. We did not have a problem with paying for their liquor, but their selection was pretty limited. Thinking about it there are a couple of pet peeves: Hardly anyone wore black tie, what's with this? If you have black tie nights, then everyone wears black tie. We did not feel like wearing formal wear, as we wear it all the time, but did to be in the spirit, or so we thought. Why would you schedule an excursion to a place without head sets, when you know you will not be able to be heard without one over the din of 1000's of other tourers, and everyone else has them but Celebrity???? You can't even buy a piece of the Corning glass, why??????? Why do they close jacuzzis on a boat at 7:30?????? What is the incentive for good service if you tip ahead of time?????? Why do they have such nice TV's if you can;t use them??????? Why advertise things you do not deliver on (Teen Club)??????? Why did we spend 4 hours at a rug store??????? We actually did not, we left the tour and went to a ceramics place, where other tour companies take their tours, but when no one else is there they will cut a deal on some beautiful stuff. Why when you are in Ephesus would you not go to see the Virgin Mary's church? They talk about it at length on the bus to the site, but then ask you to see a stupid show. (we did not we left the group and walked 200 yards to the site), and guess what?? it was one of the better preserved sites. In fact a private tour guide had 2 people with him and told us that not all the tour companies blow off the church, only those that want you to stay at the rug place for 4 hours in hopes you will buy something. To be perfectly honest, I would much rather go to a travel agent, book hotels and air to travel around Greece, and rail to travel around Italy, pay for a nice 5 star hotel, eat in very nice restaurants, and save a bunch of money. The cruise would have been OK for just me and my wife, if all we wanted to do was rest, and take a couple of excursions. By the end of the trip, we had blown off the boat programs and did our own. Why would Celebrity not offer do it yourself land trips or make arrangements to rent cars, boats, etc.? I now know why so many people do their own things on each of the stops, but then if you are going to do this, then why cruise at all, just pack 1 bag (leave the tux and dress at home) and travel around, particularly Greece where the ferries and air are very convenient, and Italy where the trains are very convenient. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
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
We recently completed a 12 day cruise to/from Barcelona. We were disappointed in: a. The number of children on board ... from various cruise reviews I expected a older group of passengers and a more ... Read More
We recently completed a 12 day cruise to/from Barcelona. We were disappointed in: a. The number of children on board ... from various cruise reviews I expected a older group of passengers and a more peaceful atmosphere. The ship was so large that we seemed to be waiting in line for everything. Getting a table and eating in the Ocean Cafe (the buffet) required a good deal of patience b. There were 3 ports which required tenders... which were so disorganized that it was torture to go ashore. c. Several ports (Venice, Rome, Florence) were far from the cities and no shuttles were provided. You had to pay additional for the excursions or shuttles, both of which involved a good deal of lining up and waiting. d. Although the advertised stop was Nice, we were tendered into Villefranche and had to arrange transportation to either Nice or Monaco. Same problem for Rome, Florence, etc. e. The ship advertised the latest time to return to the ship which I think discouraged people from making their own transportation arrangements .. the threat that if you missed the sailing, you would have to catch up with the ship at your own expenses. So people took the ship's shore excursions... and these excursion regularly got back to the ship after the posted deadline! f. We paid extra for Concierge class. Two of our group did not. We are of the opinion that the difference was not worth the extra cost. g. We had 3 days at sea. Two of them were in a row at the end of the cruise. It would have been preferable to space them out to allow passengers some rest in between ports..not on the way home. h. On the plus side, the cabins were roomy and comfortable. The food was good. We didn't try the specialty restaurants. i. The drink packages were ridiculously high. A bottle of liquor for the room is double other cruise lines. On the other hand, individual drinks were reasonably priced. j. Gratuities were charged on our account and added to individual drink orders, etc. However, it was clear that more was expected. Either leave the tipping to the discretion of the passengers or instruct staff that additional gratuities should not be accepted. k. It was a good thing that the cruise was only 12 days because we felt constantly bombarded with methods to extract more money from the passenger.. casino, spa, specialty drinks, shopping "sales", shore excursion pitches, bingo, etc.etc. l. Dinner seatings were 6:15 or 8:45 and neither were convenient. m. The entertainment in the evening was mediocre. The enrichment lectures were good but poorly advertised. n. Room service was great and a break from the "mob" scene o. There was a bridge room..but no one to organize, advertise or supervise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was the eighth cruise for my wife & I--Our third Med. cruise. Last on Ruby Princess in 2009. We last cruised Celebrity on Millenium in 2007 in Med & found it superior in many ways. Things we found good; The food in MDR was ... Read More
This was the eighth cruise for my wife & I--Our third Med. cruise. Last on Ruby Princess in 2009. We last cruised Celebrity on Millenium in 2007 in Med & found it superior in many ways. Things we found good; The food in MDR was very good every night & the service was equally good. On past cruises we have always eaten in Specialty restaurants but did not on Solstice because MDR was so good. Our room was quite comfortable & the shower was larger than previous cruises --greatly appreciated. Cabin stewards were top notch--really ecxellent. Oceanview cafee was very good but seemed to have the same food daily. But still very good. Many of the Public rooms were quite nice as were bars. Things we didn't like so much; Entertainment was almost NON existent. Certainly the worst I have encountered on any cruise. When the highlights of your cruise entertainment are the captain singing & playing guitar it says it all. We tendered in 3 ports & each tendered port there was a big problem leaving the ship. In some cases it took HOURS to leave the ship. I have tendered on other ships & They all seem to handle this problem better than Solstice.. Additionally, the system they use is quite unfair also. People who purchase excursions through Celebrity don't have the same problems leaving ship. Also on our cruise there were surprisingly a lot of very young children it seemed, & constantly running & jumping in pool & riding elevators up & down for fun. Security could have been a little better. My wife & I always considered Celebrity a notch above other lines but they need to improve . I hope the do improve--it will be better for all customers Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We were a party of 4, two elderly seasoned cruisers and two 40 something first time cruisers. We were in a spa cabin which was disappointingly small. Very little drawer or hanging space. If your cabin is in the centre of the spa deck the ... Read More
We were a party of 4, two elderly seasoned cruisers and two 40 something first time cruisers. We were in a spa cabin which was disappointingly small. Very little drawer or hanging space. If your cabin is in the centre of the spa deck the top deck will hang over your balcony and keep out the sun. There was just nowhere to sit quietly on this ship. Everywhere there was loud music playing even in the library. The adults only covered pool should be free of music as most people using this pool are reading or sleeping. Santorini was a disaster. We waited 3 hours to board the tender and then gave up as it was dark by this time. Although I was at the tender desk by opening time (9a.m.) we had to wait for firstly the tour people to go, then a large Asian group and then a large American group who all got preferential treatment. The tours were poor value for money. Too much time is given to seeing the "carpet shop". Our travelling companions did not book any tours and fared much better than we did. They hired a car in Mykonos and Ephesus, walked to the Mosque area in Istanbul and took the metro from the port of Piraeus to the Acropolis which cost only a few Euros. Spa cabin guests eat in the Blu Restaurant. The food there was only passable. Soups were good also the steaks but generally the food was way down on the list of ships we have been on. Service was rushed. The waiters seemed to be rushing all the time and the wine waitress often did not come to take our order until we were eating the main course. We ate only once in the Murano restaurant which was well below standard and cannot compare with say Ted English on a Queen Victoria. As seasoned cruisers this cruise was way down on our list of enjoyable holidays but our two travelling companions thought it was fantastic, so perhaps it is more suitable for the under 40's. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
SUMMARY - Wonderful Eastern Mediterranean itinerary, nice ship, but a terrible dining room experience means we probably won't be sailing Celebrity again. Four years ago Celebrity lived up to it's "Deluxe" brand, but not ... Read More
SUMMARY - Wonderful Eastern Mediterranean itinerary, nice ship, but a terrible dining room experience means we probably won't be sailing Celebrity again. Four years ago Celebrity lived up to it's "Deluxe" brand, but not this time. We've tried four different lines, looking for our personal sweet-spot of price/value: 1) Celebrity Century Aug 2005: Was very happy, but since was our first, was still comparing. 2) Golden Princess Aug 2006: Generally happy with, but buffet food was bad. 3) Azamara Journey Aug 2007: Was very happy, but not more than Celebrity to justify the higher cost. 4) Regent Seven Seas Navigator Jan 2009: Was extremely happy, but not in line with significantly higher price. ... and thus we had settled on Celebrity as "our" cruise line (or so we thought), when we booked on 5) Celebrity Solstice Oct 2009, Eastern Mediterrean EMBARKATION was very smooth. Was on the ship 12 minutes after walking in the door of the building. DEMOGRAPHIC - Since we're now empty-nesters and travelled outside of school breaks, this cruise had *very* few children, like 4. Some elderly folks, but not so many. Most were aged like us, mid-40's or so. I appreciate Celebrity's geographically diverse passengers: lots of Spanish, French, Brits, Scots, Irish, Germans, Canadians in addition to the Americans. SHIP though the largest we've sailed on at 2800 passengers, didn't feel "too big". It was also very quiet and smooth sailing. SHIP DECOR is pre-dominately modern rather than stately. The dining room is all white plastic and chrome. The epitome is the Quasar discotheque. Imagine The Jetsons, Austin Powers, and a 60's Mod designer have a head-on collision. To be fair, we didn't do the nightlife there, but it's appearance was more funny/ironic/silly than inviting. The decor exception is the Ensemble lounge outside the specialty restaurants. That is refined and stately. Wish we'd found that sooner. Listening to the string quartet in there with cocktails was sublime. ELEVATORS are in only two locations: eight at mid-aft, and four at mid-forward. At first I thought this was a mistake rather than the more usual three locations. However, having eight elevators at the embarkation/debarkation point for the gangway or tenders meant that the usually crowded beginning and ending of port days was mostly a non-event in getting between the port and your stateroom. Hint: when returning from shore, go past the first four elevators where 20 people are waiting, and go to the second set of four where only two people are waiting. STATEROOMS were a very pleasant surprise (we had both a veranda, and an inside). At first glance it appeared to be lacking storage space since there were not closets along the hall to the door. But there were lots of shelves, closets and drawers that everything had a place with space left over. And the room had a more open and airy feel. The beds were "to die for" comfortable with moderate firmness and an eggshell foam pad on top. The bathroom was bigger and more comfortable, with lots of storage. I really liked the lighted light switch and dim lights inside to make a middle-of-the-night trip there comforting without having to turn on the bright lights. The main room lights also dimmed to provide a more subdued mood at night. In my room, I only heard an occasional muffled cough from next door. But in my wife's inside room, she became more familiar with the next door couple's intimate behaviors than she cared to. The room stewards were fantastic. ENTERTAINMENT was OK, though not something we care a lot about. The Pulse show with Cirque-de-Soleil -like acrobatic performances was good, but none of the acts were particularly impressive. The comedian was British, with his repertoire limited to British cultural humor (a lot went right over my head), or downright mean, or old jokes I've heard before (though he was an amazing operatic singer and guitarist). We saw just those two shows. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT MURANO was fantastic, well worth the extra money. The service was amazing, and the food very good (the "turf" filet was excellent, with the "surf" lobster tail bland like frozen-shipped-across-the-globe lobster tails tend to be, the goat cheese souffle also excellent). With Celebrity Century's Sabatini's experience four years ago as one of my top two dining experiences ever, I was not disappointed with Murano. We didn't try the other restaurants based on mediocre reviews and our high standards of Asian cuisine. BISTRO ON 5 was OK. The crepes-only menu was satisfactory for a night we couldn't get to the dining room, but not worth visiting it a second time. It was always nearly empty. OCEANVIEW BUFFET was OK. A nice selection of dishes prepared acceptably. The food selection on the islands was duplicated a lot, but not consistently. Scrambled eggs were several places, but pork sausages only one place, cutting through the made-to-order omelette line. The traffic flow was a bit chaotic, dodging other people in multiple trips since no trays. I don't understand that decision; do they think we won't notice it's a buffet? The sushi was disappointing since we're used to excellent sushi. The juice dispensers did seem to be empty frequently. The ice cream was good and welcome. What happened to the service in the buffet? I recall waiters waiting to take your drink orders and help you find a table. The tables were cleared quickly enough, just no "service" to speak of. MAIN DINING ROOM FOOD was extremely disappointing. Four years ago I was impressed at *every* meal we had in the Celebrity Century MDR. I particularly enjoyed ordering the "Chef's Recommendation" lineup from night to night as it was uniformly excellent, and a fun experience in trying new dishes. That tradition is gone. Quality ranged from Good (Veal Cordon Bleu, Chilean sea bass, a couple of other fish dishes) to Average (pasta and meatballs) to Bad (Sirloin Oscar that was indescribably tough). In several instances it seemed they had a translation problem from the chef to the menu writer: Seafood fettucine alfredo that came in a marinara sauce, Asian salad with pine nuts that came with peanuts, "fully loaded" baked potato that came with 1/2" diameter cheese/butter mix ball, steak with sauteed mushrooms where the latter were nowhere to be found... And even I know that you don't cut a sirloin 2" thick like a tenderloin or it ends up tough, that an Asian salad is more than 1/4 head of large cabbage leaves, one pepper strip and eight peanuts, that an alfredo is a cream sauce and that lobster should be served with melted butter. The food was delivered lukewarm, but never so bad we had to send it back. The desserts were average. Since food quality is the most important cruise differentiator to me, we probably won't be sailing Celebrity again. MAIN DINING ROOM SERVICE was terrible. First off, I'm pretty sure that we asked to be seated with other people, as we enjoy meeting other people. On Celebrity Century four years ago I was extremely impressed at how well they selected our table mates: three families of native English speakers with teenagers. But this time we ended up with a table for two. Ronald from Philly...pines (his joke) was an excellent waiter, even though we had him only the first night. Then we switched to a table for ten. The new waiter (don't know his name as he never introduced himself in 8 nights at his table) was over his head in service expectations at a a fine dining venue. 5 minutes after sitting down he was on you for your order with no explanation of the night's dishes or recommendations. After the terrible Sirloin Oscar, he said it was that way every cruise . I sure would have liked to know that before ordering it. Steak knives had to be requested with every steak dish every night (except for the last night). Even though I ordered wine every night, the sommelier had to be summoned every night (except for the last night), and the bar steward had to be summoned for drinks every night (except the last night). Coincidence? or might it be the cruise evaluation turned in that night? One night it took 50 minutes from first requesting the sommelier, having the waiter forget, multiple attempts at flagging down the sommelier, ordering the wine, having the sommelier forget, until we finally got two glasses of house "by the glass" wine... Really! SHORE EXCURSIONS were nearly all excellent. We signed up for a Celebrity shore excursion in every port we could. There were no Mykonos tours listed, though some people had one that day?? Antonio on the MY20 Peloritani Mountain Hiking in Messina, Rashid on the KD16 Turkish Towns and Villages in Kusadasi and Constantina on the RH01 Historic Rhodes Walking Tour were particularly outstanding guides. The guide in Naples for the Pompeii Exploration was good, though her accent was thick and hard to understand. Other people said this about other guides in Naples also. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
CELEBRITY SOLSTICE NOT AS WONDERFUL AS THE FIRST TIME AROUND We just returned from a 10 night, Rome-Greece-Turkey-Greece-Rome cruise on the Solstice. We booked this trip way back in August of 2008, and when the ... Read More
CELEBRITY SOLSTICE NOT AS WONDERFUL AS THE FIRST TIME AROUND We just returned from a 10 night, Rome-Greece-Turkey-Greece-Rome cruise on the Solstice. We booked this trip way back in August of 2008, and when the opportunity arose to be able to take a 7 day Caribbean trip on the Solstice in March of 2009, we jumped at it. THAT trip was spectacular...the ship, the staff, the entertainment, even the food (on most days) were way above expectations. We compared this cruise to a "Lexus experience". As we were completing this Caribbean cruise and complementing various crew members and managers, we learned to our chagrin that most all of the top people were leaving the Solstice in May to go the newer Celebrity Equinox. We were assured that the cruise line would be replacing these excellent employees with similarly trained employees. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Upon boarding the Solstice for the Mediterranean cruise, we almost immediately felt that something was "Different". Among our disappointments were: Main dining room food was, at best, fair. Shrimp cocktails were listed on the menu as containing Jumbo shrimp, but turned out to use much smaller shrimp than the last time. The cheesecake dessert was without a doubt the worst attempt at cheesecake we had EVER experienced. It had no cheesecake taste at all, and appeared to have been baked about the same time we were on the ship before - in March !! The waiters, who had been exemplary in March, seemed overwhelmed. They had little, if any time, to "chat" and to be able to permit ambiance to flow. The entertainment was, for the most part, pathetic. The dancers were out on sync, almost like a bad high school musical. The "Solstice Orchestra" reminded me of a burlesque band in a seedy downtown joint from the '50s. The drummer had no finesse at all, and the brass section never did hit the same notes at the same time. Embarrassing and painful to observe!! The "Soul'd Out" a capella quartet was pretty lame - the one baby faced "singer" (?) could have cracked crystal (sorry, Ella Fitzgerald). The internet facility was simply the worst we ever experienced on any ship—anywhere. I am aware that satellite internet is not the fastest delivery method, but how about 9 minutes to print a one page boarding pass??? (at 65 cents a minute!!)) That's only if you could even got logged on in the first place!! Ridiculous. On the petty side, when leaving the ship, you could buy water and soft drinks for all the departing land tours, but only if you agreed to a 15% service charge. For what??? And the elevators were programmed very poorly. We experienced long waits at almost every time of day. On the plus side, Cruise Director Dru Pavlov, whom we sailed with twice before, gave his usual "10" effort to everything he does. Too bad that he too has now (this week) left the Solstice. The land tours were Great...fairly priced, and led by experienced guides. Bottom line... The Solstice experience had slid from "Lexus" level to "Jeep" level....reliable for the most part, but nothing exceptional. We have cruised 7 times in the past three years - our advice - if you're "Meat and Potatoes" people, the Solstice is fine. If you like some sophistication and the pampered feeling that you are cared about, go with the 700 passenger ships of Oceania or Azamara Celebrity's upscale cousin. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Embarcation was efficient and well planed. Embarkation went very well. The staterooms were very pleasant and balcony of adequate size. But the soundproofing between the rooms was very bad indeed. Entertainment not as good as ... Read More
Embarcation was efficient and well planed. Embarkation went very well. The staterooms were very pleasant and balcony of adequate size. But the soundproofing between the rooms was very bad indeed. Entertainment not as good as the RCI ships. Breakfast always luke warm I asked why is the food always only warm, reply from one of the supervisors...if the heat is turned up the food will dry out and have to be thrown away!! MDR..Fantastic table of 8, but we all felt the food could be much improved - not 5*. Again only warm Food. Tables are to close together compaired with RCI. And staff are looking after to many tables. More staff needed to raise standards. Verdict; The service and food are not in any way 5* standard, more a high 3*. And is not worth the extra you are prepared to pay for a higher class of service. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was our first ever cruise and we were told it was the very best. The price was high but as it was our 40th Wedding anniversary it was to be something special. Never done before. everyone said we would love it! The ship itself ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise and we were told it was the very best. The price was high but as it was our 40th Wedding anniversary it was to be something special. Never done before. everyone said we would love it! The ship itself was magnificent at first sight. Breathtaking. The rooms: It was not what we expected for the price, clean but small, there was no light on the balcony so you couldn't sit and read after dark. On one change of bedding our sheets were ripped. Flowers in the room and bathroom were not changed and had died after a couple of days and got smelly. Cabin steward very good but didn't seems to notice flowers. The ship itself was magnificent in size but far too few sun beds for everyone to lay on whilst dodging the walkers racing around the deck. Sunbeds touched each other on the upper decks. But the cost of the drinks (which our travel agent told us were free if they were local drinks,we now know that she obviously meant tea,coffee and fruit juice) were very expensive, plus we didn't know that a 15% service charge was added EVERY TIME you ordered. In the restaurant the wine waiter recommended a wine but omitted to tell us it was $50 a bottle, plus the 15% of course, until we got the bill afterwards. A bit late then. Entertainment was mediocre. I would have thought that with a ship this big and the cost to passengers, that someone more well known could have been booked instead of the singers that kept trying to justify why they were there. The magician/illusionist was excellent as was the different points that some of the other entertainers played at in the different bars and walkways but they finished too early. Dancers were OK but nothing special. not in the same class as the ship portrays. Theatre comfortable and view was excellent. Restaurants. Top deck was just like any other "all in" hotel. Some of the waiters were on the whole sloppy and not very personable. Piles of empty plates seem not to cleared away as they stood talking together. Again not the standard expected. We bought the video. My advice is DONT BOTHER its a rip off. Ours even has people walking backwards and then speeds up to double speed. It didn't show the beautiful ship just a bit on how it was built not much on the interiors and they just added the few karaoke faces that had been on the ship that week. what a waste of money and very disappointing when we played it to our friends. shame on Celebrity, this wont sell your ship to others. We were also sold chips for our camera which didn't work..another $25 !! Being such a huge ship, why does it visit places like Santorini. With other ships already there plus our 3,000 passengers, we had to que up in the hot sun for well over an hour just to get on the chairlift or go against advice and get on the back of a dangerous and very smelly donkey. Many did and had rather nasty injuries afterwards being rammed against walls and one had a donkey fall on her. In Istanbul the ship wanted to charge $12 to get a coach to the main blue Mosque. We walked five minutes up the road and got on the brilliant new tram and paid $2.5 Take your time to check things like this out. The City was in Ramadan but the essence of the place was wonderful. Places to visit were all round the Blue Mosque area. We felt extremely safe walking around. You do have to pay to get into places of interest but they are all well worth the visit, especially the Harem. Athens: Argue and play the taxi drivers against each other for the cost for the day. Don't pay them till you have finished the day. Ours took us all around Athens telling us about the history and stopping at all the sights. Brilliant day. On our arrival back in Rome "Celebrity" had booked us into a hotel called The Empire Palace for some extra nights. Looking at some of the hotels that they had booked other guests into I think we got the best deal. One looked like it was a prison and was so far out of the town. I later heard that they had cold food, the place was dirty and smelly. Our hotel was not like the brochure. The wonderful looking terrace where we could dine had dirty plastic chairs and tables. The staff and in particular the head receptionist was arrogant and rude. Only the barman made any effort to make the group welcome. The rep disappeared pretty quickly as well and didn't come back. We had a room that we couldn't get into over 6 times! we had go go back to Reception each time and get some help. In the end they gave us a key! The room was good, although the food was extremely expensive and if you like decorated plates but no substance, this is the hotel for you. We have been to some of the best hotels in the world but this was dire. The waiting staff didn't know how to lay a basic table and we had to ask for cutlery and plates at breakfast. Restaurant was dull and dark. Why does celebrity use such second rate hotels where there are modern multi-chain ones that have a higher standard nearby? Overall we were extremely disappointed and feel totally let down by the Celebrity experience. Ask us if we would cruise with Celebrity again.... I doubt it. We heard so many complaining and saying other lines were better, not only for value but standards. It all ended up as "A disappointed dream." Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Solstice Review 17/08/09 Great Ship - Inconsistent Service One of the strange things that has been commented on before on Cruise Critic is that people on the same cruise can have vastly different experiences. I think a lot of this comes ... Read More
Solstice Review 17/08/09 Great Ship - Inconsistent Service One of the strange things that has been commented on before on Cruise Critic is that people on the same cruise can have vastly different experiences. I think a lot of this comes down to expectation and prior experience. I am writing this by way of warning because this review isn't from the point of view of a veteran mass market cruiser but rather someone new to cruising who is used to holidaying at resorts on land like the Aman Resorts in Asia, Sandy Lane in Barbados, Four Seasons anywhere, Stein Eriksen in Deer Valley... I will preface this review by saying that we had a really lovely family holiday aboard the Solstice. This was our second cruise, and our first with Celebrity (last year we sailed around Scandinavia on the RC Jewel of the Seas.) We had a really fabulous experience on our first cruise last year which led us to book aboard the Solstice. We booked with Celebrity on the basis that they seemed to offer a more luxurious, upmarket experience and were very excited about the new Solstice class of ships. The ship itself was certainly above and beyond our expectations - it is light, modern and luxurious. Sadly the service really lets the ship down, it is frustratingly inconsistent across venues and the staff ranged from very friendly to decidedly surly. The ship was completely full so Celebrity probably doesn't need any tips from me about how to run their business but in order to guarantee repeat customers I really think they need to focus on their staff management and training. Cabins: My cabin was great, a celebrity suite on deck 11 with an extra large balcony. Very comfortable with all the mod cons of a good hotel. My biggest tip to Celebrity here would be to remove the frosted glass between the living room and bedroom and replace it with clear glass and a blind. A few of the people in our group had the option to be in a Celebrity suite but preferred to stay in their sky suites because they didn't want to be in a bedroom which was essentially like an inside cabin. I really missed being able to see the sea from my bed - but all in all this issue is minor, I was very comfortable and well looked after by my cabin attendant. The Butler was pretty invisible but I get the impression this is only a perk if you have specific things for them to do. I didn't ask for anything and never ate in my room so the Butler service was close to nil, which suited me fine. I saw a Penthouse and a Royal suite both of which were very nicely appointed. Restaurants Murano: We arrived aboard thinking we would come here frequently but ate here only once on our first night aboard. Sadly the whole experience comes off as a parody of what one might expect from a Michelin starred restaurant on shore. Instead of attentive and polite the service tends to come off as greasy and obsequious. By way of background we all adore French food and have been lucky enough to eat at many very fine French restaurants in Europe and America - with this in mind the food is only just ok, but tends towards being stodgy and overwrought- the soufflEs were sadly sagging by the time they reached the table. The management staff went out of their way on a number of occasions to let us know that we were very lucky to be given a table because they were so busy - suffice to say that in good restaurants the key is making the customer feel the exact opposite, they they are pleased and delighted to have you as a guest regardless of how busy they might be. In short, the management staff at Murano have a great deal to learn about top class service, the snob factor they try to bring to the experience is almost comedically out of place at sea. Tuscan Grille: We ate here many times during the course of the cruise - the food is tasty and the service friendly. The restaurant managers were always very welcoming and charming but the basic level of table service was poor. Glasses would go unfilled, plates uncleared, all while 4 or 5 waiters would be working our table at once. It seemed that the staff had very limited training in the basics of efficient restaurant service. Orders were frequently taken wrongly or forgotten altogether, of course we're on holiday so we're pretty relaxed about all these sorts of details but they are worth pointing out in a review. The food is nice, the pastas are tasty, and the steaks competently cooked but certainly nothing you probably can't have at your local neighbourhood Italian. Silk Harvest: The manager at Silk Harvest was really great and always went out of his way to get us a table - but again the table service suffered from the same slightly amateurish problems as the other restaurants, but the food was always quick and tasty - the sushi was lovely and fresh. Oceanview Cafe: As far as buffet food goes it is very hard to fault the Oceanview, everything seems fresh and tasty, plenty of choice all day. The crowds can be a little aggressive at breakfast but all in all this venue does exactly what it should do, and it does it very well. Grand Epernay: We ate here twice and both times the food was good and the service friendly. The first time was at the captain's table which we all thoroughly enjoyed and the second time was towards the end of the cruise at our own table. The food here isn't haute cuisine, but it is prepared in a way that probably appeals to the broadest audience. I had Chateaubriand one night and pork chop the other and both were good. I had a middle course of soup one night which was pretty closely related to something you would probably find in a tin at your local supermarket but still all absolutely fine. We found all the napkin waving, light flashing, drum banging, Auld Lang Syne singing on the last formal night to be absolutely totally bizarre. It was like being in a TGI Fridays or something and again really totally destroyed any illusion of sophistication that had been carefully created by the dEcor and dress code. Although again, while we found it odd one or two of the tables around us seemed to enjoy it, so it might just be that we are totally out of step with the demographic and routines of cruising. Quasar + Martini+ Sky : The design elements of Quasar are cool but the space itself doesn't really work, it is an awkward corridor of a room and there is no natural flow between the bar and dancefloor. Conversely Sky is a really fabulous room but is sadly underutilized. There were a lot of Spanish speakers on our cruise and the DJ in Quasar played almost exclusively Spanish language pop music which was a bit disappointing and as a result really alienated a lot of English speakers we spoke to, who went once but didn't go back. Consequently the crowd was largely the same core of very young Spanish speakers every night. The DJ became friendly with them and had a clipboard to get all their facebook details on the last night... sometimes becoming overly friendly with a small group of passengers can affect the ability of staff to cater to a wider audience. The bartenders in Quasar were decidedly unfriendly and a cash tip really had to be laid down in order to guarantee any kind of consistent service. We found this to be an ongoing problem, I understand that for a lot of the barstaff their livelihood depends on tips but they really need to work on the basic upfront levels of politeness and friendliness. We spoke to some Australian people on the cruise who commented that they found many of the staff throughout the boat to be surly unless engaged in an activity which involved an upsell or a tip which was something that our party of 11 also consistently found. I agree in tipping for good service but (chicken and egg) the good service has to be forthcoming in order to warrant a tip... I understand that it is probably a very difficult life on board ship, but its really not the customer's fault. The Martini bar was a great venue for a pre/post-dinner drinks and the staff there really set an excellent example. Carlito always served us quickly and efficiently and went out of his way to make our experience a good one. Consequently we always went out of our way to make sure he was generously tipped. Celebrity really need to set the bar higher and spend more time auditing the behaviour of their staff. The good service here highlighted in many ways how patchy the service was elsewhere. The only downside is probably the music which is too loud and a terrible Euro/techno mix from about 1999. One time when we were in the bar alone we asked them to turn it down enough so we could have a conversation and our waiter very apologetically told us that management wouldn't allow them to turn the music down. By the pool was the same, bad pop music played much too loud. It's a little as though someone at Celebrity thinks that very loud music played by the pool (and everywhere else) creates a party atmosphere. In reality it just creates noise pollution and inhibits conversation. I'm 28 and used to nightclub environments so I can only imagine how annoying this must be for older passengers. Those used to real four and five star service will probably come away decidedly disappointed. If what you are looking for is huge amounts of food, huge numbers of people, huge cocktails and loud 'party' music piped throughout the ship then you will undoubtedly come away happy. I would recommend the Solstice, but with the important caveat that the overall experience is more Holiday Inn than Four Seasons. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
My husband and I are 40ish and have done cruises on various Celebrity, Cunard, Star and NCL ships. We flew into Rome 2 days early and stayed at the Sheraton. Not a new hotel, but with very warm service, great breakfast and with a good ... Read More
My husband and I are 40ish and have done cruises on various Celebrity, Cunard, Star and NCL ships. We flew into Rome 2 days early and stayed at the Sheraton. Not a new hotel, but with very warm service, great breakfast and with a good shuttle service into town. Transfer to and from the port was no problem. We had booked a "Rome Taxi" transfer at EUR130 each way. They were punctual, very helpful and cars were well maintained and new. We reached the dock at around 12 and boarding was extremely quick. We were on the ship in less than 5 minutes. The Ship: If you like rich wood paneling, lush carpeting, thick table clothes and fine China, you should cruise on the Millennium series of ships. If you like white plastic, aircraft cabin like mood lighting, sterile China and tiled flooring, you would like Solstice. The little wood on board, or actually "faux wood paneling", at the Sky Observation Lounge entrance was already severely blistering and falling off the walls. Negotiating the long walk from the front cabins to the aft Blu dining room was also treacherous, since much of it is through tiled areas. Very unlike Millie where a girl can safely walk her high heels through lush carpet on the way to the dining room. The ship only has 2 elevator banks, again unlike Millie class that has 3. The waits for the lifts were incredible long and very annoying. The Lawn Club was nice, but all of it had been declared a smoking zone. Also, the outside area of the buffet was much smaller. We had next to no chance to sit outside, which was one of our favorite spots on the Millie ships. None of the pools appeared significantly bigger either, yet you have 1,000 more passengers on board. On sea days, it was very, very difficult to secure seats on deck, let alone a recliner. There were babies in the pool and Jacuzzi (even in the Aqua Spa). One promptly emptied its gut into the Jacuzzi, right next to us. Kids were jumping into the pools from the Jacuzzis above with no regard what or whom they would hit at the bottom. We were disappointed that dozens of staff were hawking drinks, yet none were assigned to ensure basic pool safety, let alone enforce Celebrity rules such as "nobody under 16 in the Aqua Spa pool or Jacuzzis". In short, Solstice feels a lot more crammed than Millie class ships. Although Solstice has a few more gimmicks, such as its Lawn Club, none of the facilities that really matter are missing from Millie. Solstice is a very generic looking ship, with little character of its own. It is undoubtedly designed to be easily sold to another line in a couple of years. The Cabin : - Great storage spaces. Wardrobe access a little awkward next to the bed. - Don't expect more space. We could not detect any size difference versus Millie CC cabins. - Solstice has only fabric covered balcony furniture. These are not steady and we tipped over backwards twice when we were in the reclined position. Quite dangerous. Millie class has much better, padded balcony furniture. - Sound proving on Solstice is bad. Could hear music from deck above and every word of our neighbors. - A lot of kids in AQ class on this sailing. Very noisy!! - Also several chain smokers who smoked inside their AQ cabins. Staff were unable to get them under control. - In short, AQ may not give you the Zen like Spa peace and quiet you anticipated The Dining Rooms: Since we were booked in AQ class, we enjoyed meals at Blu. Service at the Blu was very personalized and friendly. The breakfast was outstanding and is not to be missed. However, we felt that dinners were hit and miss. Many days, dishes were simply bland. For example, a pork cutlet was served with no sauce, a piece of broccoli and no seasoning on the meat either. Yet, a couple of nights later, we enjoyed the most delicious Filet Mignon ever. The only constant in this inconsistency were the deserts, which were disappointing. Ice creams dominated the desert menu every evening. Why are there not more baked deserts on the menu? Murano was a beautiful space, with great food. Certainly worth the extra USD30. Great meal, which was just a little rushed. If was full most evenings and staff had to get their table politely but firmly ready for later seatings. MDR was our choice for a couple of lunches. The food never disappointed. In fact, the pastas were very good and we felt that food was better than Blu after a couple of meals. We do miss the panorama windows that were the main feature of Celebrity's other ships. The MDR on these is always located at the back. In terms of decor, the MDR was the most underwhelming of any ship we have been on. The wine tower is simply not much to stare at. The Buffet cannot be recommended. Layout is poor and passenger flow even worse. There is no pattern to what stations repeat what foods (and believe me, there is a lot of repetition) and no intuitive way of navigating the many cooking islands. At most meal times, it's a zoo and a chaotic gridlock. To make matter worse, we really were annoyed with the "no tray" policy. Try balancing a plate of food, your napkin with cutlery (no spoons, so you have to pick these up separately as well) and a drink through a hungry crowd. Absolutely disappointing compared with the lovely buffets we have enjoyed on other ships. Food was unimaginative, only the Pizza and mid-afternoon Ice Cream can be recommended. Drink machines were frequently out of order and/or flooding the floors and tables were not cleaned in a timely manner. Many items ran out, with long periods of no replacement (plates, salad sauces etc.) Avoid this venue altogether if you can! The Entertainment Another area of disappointment. We saw iBroadway on Millennium recently. Much better than anything on offer on Solstice. Its Broadway show featured songs none of us had ever heard. The "Stars Of Solstice" were not as talented as their Millennium counterparts and there seemed to be an emphasis on screaming with vibrato rather than singing. There was a good Celtic Duet and also a very enjoyable celebrity impersonator on board. Both of these outclassed the Stars of Solstice completely. The Cirque De Soleil type show featured some great acrobatic work. However, the Stars of Solstice were once again woven into the storyline of this performance - it would have been better without them. Lastly, we have to echo the comment made in other review on music. There was simply no quiet place on the boat. Every public space had various types of music doodling away at volumes that were far too high and unpleasant. We have never been fans of pool bands, and the Solstice one was not something we enjoyed. Problem is there is really nowhere to get away from the noise on this ship. Coupled with the bad sound proofing, we could even hear the gym music from the gym's balcony above our cabin blaring all day. Solstice, tone down the volume in all your public areas please. We are not deaf!! Verdict : this cruise offered a great itinerary, which we enjoyed. However, the ship is sterile and too crowded. It does not feel as lush or luxurious as its Millennium class sisters. Passenger movement, especially waiting for the lifts, was a major nuisance and we would not choose Solstice class again. Back to Millennium class for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
This was my first mega-ship experience, after 4 prior cruises on mid-to large size ships with Royal Caribbean and Carnival. In general, Solstice is beautiful with modern decor and well designed to manage the number of passengers - ... Read More
This was my first mega-ship experience, after 4 prior cruises on mid-to large size ships with Royal Caribbean and Carnival. In general, Solstice is beautiful with modern decor and well designed to manage the number of passengers - except for the pool areas, which were quite crowded on sea days and full of kids. Forget looking for a deck chair after 8 am.I am in my mid-40s, and traveled with my parents, also veteran cruisers, and we all felt that Celebrity missed badly with food in the main dining room. Also, we were not able to be seated with the rest of our party of 8, even though we had booked the cruise 6 months in advance; at embarkation, I discovered that I had been assigned a table separate from my parents and the rest of our party. I was able to get a table for 4 seated with them, but unsuccessful in resolving the request to be seated with the others. The best they could do was to have us seated on the same side of the upper dining room floor, which wasn't much, considering there was a wall between us. Our service in the main dining room was excellent, we received our food first and from our vantage point in the far corner were able to see that it took quite some time to serve the rest of the room. Some offerings were good, but most fell into the average category; portions were adequate. The number of entrees, appetizers, and desserts was limited compared with previous cruise experiences, and not in keeping with Celebrity's positioning as a "premium" cruise line. For instance, meat loaf was on the menu one night, and chicken fettucini another. Not exactly special fare!  Filet showed up once, although strip steak was available every day. The wine list was extensive, although prices tended to be high, I was able to find some good values from Italy and with less familiar varietals. We enjoyed the food in the Oceanview Cafe and were able to quickly figure out when the most crowded times were and managed to avoid them. We also ate at Murano one night and that was the best meal of the trip, but it was an extra $30 per person upcharge. The best value came from Bistro on Five, at $5 per person. The crepes and salads were fresh and tasty.Our cabin was Concierge Class, and on deck 11 aft. It was quiet at night, but noisy during the day as it bordered a hallway lined with service cabinets for the room attendents. You could tell when they came on duty each morning between 6 and 7am. Our room attendents were fast and efficient. Disappointingly, we had a problem with items being removed from the minibar when we were absent from the room. I complained twice with Guest Relations and asked to have the minibar locked, with no response and a total of ~$23 charged to my account by the end of the cruise. Our cabin door was difficult to close and you had to pull hard from the outside to lock it - twice during the trip we came back to the cabin to find it ajar. No personal items were missing but we were very careful to use the safe and ensure all valuables were locked away. The only advantage to Concierge Class that I could see was room location, being on a high deck and away from the atrium staircases. The afternoon canapes were a CC item, but one that I wouldn't recommend. Our veranda was slightly larger as we had the last cabin before the stern, which was nice, but it had a partially obstructed view to the rear. The spa was totally disappointing. The staff seemed rushed and the treatments I had (pedicure, facial, massage) were treated as an opportunity for them to do hard selling to buy more expensive options and products. Not the relaxing experience I was expecting, and overall, not worth the prices charged. I hope Aqua Class guests received better service. One bright spot was the Corning Glass show - definitely a must-see. Get there early for a good seat. The Lawn Club seemed a waste of deck space. And we hated the fact that a smoking section was located on Deck 12 just prior to the Solarium entrance on the AquaSpa Cafe side. Smoke floated into the Solarium and made it difficult to reach the "healthy alternative eating" at the Cafe (which was suprising good, but too small and hours of operation limited).Entertainment was modest. The Broadway review on the first formal night was nicely done. Public areas and the many bars were thoughtfully designed. We enjoyed Michael's Club and the Passport Lounge for pre or post dinner drinks. The Martini bar was always crowded ($10 each). Drinks were inconsistent, some evenings well made, other times not. Finally, the reason we chose this cruise was the number of ports and price paid. We enjoyed our trip and had a great time seeing the sights, and did a mix of ship tours and independent. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We joined the Solstice on 27 August in Barcelona having travelled from Dublin with Aer Lingus for a 12 night cruise The transfer to the ship was also included (there was a little confusion at the airport to the coach getting all passengers ... Read More
We joined the Solstice on 27 August in Barcelona having travelled from Dublin with Aer Lingus for a 12 night cruise The transfer to the ship was also included (there was a little confusion at the airport to the coach getting all passengers together!) Smooth check in at port and as we have been on the Eclipse and the Equinox we were familiar with the layout of the ship This was a Mediterranean cruise and we had been to some of the ports previously so were looking forward to seeing some new places Rooms were available after 1pm and our bags arrived promptly We usually use Concierge Class but this time were on deck 8 cabin 8236 on the starboard side mid ship there was a pool of water on the balcony but our stateroom attendant said it was coming from higher decks when they were cleaning! Never had this before ! and it was only on our balcony ! We reported it( it never really went away during the cruise!) also the remote for the tv was held together with tape but guest services replaced it Our stateroom attendant was not as good as others we rarely saw him and he seemed reluctant to replace soap tissues etc or forms for room service until we asked also extra hangers were needed and we got the wire ones used for laundry We had noise from the tv and people in stateroom next door but following a call to guest relations it was stopped straight away The restaurant staff were excellent we opted for 2nd sitting at 8.45 table 432 on deck 4 We felt the food was not as good as the other Celebrity ships but the service was fine Wines as usual are very expensive on cruises The entertainment was good especially Fuse the violinists and the acrobats the dancers we felt were just average but Alessandro the cruise director was excellent and one of the best he was brilliant a great personality The itinerary was excellent but we felt that it would have been helpful to have landmarks etc pointed out as the only information was given when the captain made his announcements at 10am so we did not know what some of the islands etc were also there were 3 sea days with the last 2 days at sea it would have been better if these could have been split up We feel that the Eclipse and Equinox were better than the Solstice for service and entertainment but this is the oldest of the Solstice class so maybe that is why but it did not affect our enjoyment There was a long wait to get off at Villefranche we had a ticket 106 for the tender it was much quicker at Montenegro with no delays there We did two shore excursions one in Livorno a boat trip which was very interesting as we had been to Florence previously also an excellent one in Montenegro to the church of our Lady of the Rocks we also used the shuttle in Dubrovnic Our disembarkation was smooth and the transfer to airport good We did not visit Rome (been before and a very hot day !)but walked along the promenade in Civitaveccia where there are stony beaches and we had a pleasant day there also Livorno is worth a canal tour if not going to Florence as we had been before also We will definitely cruise with Celebrity again though maybe not on the Solstice Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Last year had a wonderful cruise on Solstice to Venice, so this year it was to be the Greek Islands and Malta. Easy flight from Heathrow to Barcelona and another very good stay at the Hotel Pere IV. Embarkation was as last year, smooth and ... Read More
Last year had a wonderful cruise on Solstice to Venice, so this year it was to be the Greek Islands and Malta. Easy flight from Heathrow to Barcelona and another very good stay at the Hotel Pere IV. Embarkation was as last year, smooth and hassle free. Celebrity certainly have this nailed and I am still truly impressed that they manage it so seamlessly! Once on board we headed to Cafe Al Bacio for a celebratory Latte - they make superb ones - but this year no complementary pastries - the one thing my husband loved and constantly raved about. We soon headed to our Stateroom - no surprises - it was the same one as last year (our choice)! A super Stateroom, very quiet, spacious enough and I just love that bathroom - its a joy to have proper shower doors instead of the awful plastic curtains. Another little "slip" - no slippers this year! First hiccup came at dinner - we requested a table for 2 as my husband has a hearing problem and finds it embarrassing to constantly ask people to repeat what they say - last year it was no problem at all as the table of 2 next to us were a great young couple on their honeymoon and we soon bonded! To my husband's horror, we were shown to a table of 10! In fairness to Celebrity, it was soon corrected the following evening and we had our table for 2. Sadly no-one ever took the table next to us apart from 2 evenings, so it was a bit lonely!!!!The biggest moan for me was the pool. Last year the Pool Butlers were quite strict in removing towels from beds "reserved" - this year this was not the case. On sea days, when beds are always at a premium, some were reserved from 8.30 am until lunchtime before the occupants took up residence. I also saw three ladies reserve 3 beds in the sun and 3 in the shade! No effort was made to remove towels and this is sad because if they would be stricter, then people would not do it - as it is - they don't bother because they know no-one will remove their belongings. Secondly there were many children using the Adults Only pool and one lady had to constantly politely ask them to use the family pool as they blocked the steps and some of the more elderly guests found it difficult to enter the pool. Despite it being against regulations, toddlers were using the jacuzzi as a paddling pool and not being toilet trained, I leave it to your imagination. Again no effort was made to ask them politely to not do this. I know that other guests were complaining about this but for some reason, the pool staff seemed reluctant to enforce any sort of rules or regulations - shame really. Perhaps this was just a one off - I hope so.All in all though, it was another great cruise apart from the minor slippages above. I do hope Celebrity aren't taking "cut backs" too far and that they are moving from being a premium product. But would I recommend them - certainly and we'll do it all again next year if I can be sure that they will rectify the little niggles above. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
On the upside: Solstice is a beautiful ship and the crew are second to none, food was as good as could possibly be expected when catering for this number of people. The staterooms are roomy airy and the beds are very comfortable. On ... Read More
On the upside: Solstice is a beautiful ship and the crew are second to none, food was as good as could possibly be expected when catering for this number of people. The staterooms are roomy airy and the beds are very comfortable. On the downside: The size of the ship prevents it from coming alongside in some ports, this creates lengthy disembarkation times wasting valuable time. WiFi is stupidly expensive and very slow. The system has software bugs which means that a lot of time is wasted getting the account re-set. The TV and associated information systems were equally buggy. The cost of Spa treatments are prohibitive. We found being charged for transfers from the ship off the dock distasteful as we thought it should be included. Baggage was very slow getting to the cabin on the first day.As Brits we are not used to the culture of squeezing every penny out of the customer and we were very uncomfortable with the psychological games played on the last day trying to shame us into giving copious gratuities. Overall we had a great holiday but beware of the extras which mount up very quickly in transfers expensive drinks ($4 for a bottle of water) and of course the gratuitous gratuities. We will not be cruising on an American ship again as the constant money grabbing does leave a bad taste. The moral is go on a smaller less grand but equally comfortable British ship. I nearly forgot. The lifeboat drill was a shambles! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We had a wonderful cruise experience and the vacation of a lifetime on Celebrity Solstice. We traveled to Barcelona 3 days prior to departure and were very glad for the opportunity to overcome jet lag. I would strongly recommend against ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise experience and the vacation of a lifetime on Celebrity Solstice. We traveled to Barcelona 3 days prior to departure and were very glad for the opportunity to overcome jet lag. I would strongly recommend against flying in on the day of the departure- especially traveling East across 7 time zones. In Barcelona, we stayed at Casa de Marcelo, a very small, quaint hotel (probably off the books, considering the cash only requirement) where we had a large room by European standards, but had to share a bathroom. The location in the Barri Gotic, the breakfast and service and the price all made it a good value. I rented a road bike+ GPS from TerraDiversions and rode up the mountain to Tibidabo- a short, tough climb which was vey much worth the work. We were shown around Barcelona by our friends who live there (and came on the cruise with us), also visiting the beautiful beach town of Sitges. The superlatives: Embarkation and disembarkation were both quick and painless. Solstice is a beautiful boat. the food was outstanding- a true banquet every night in the main dining room meant that we never tried the specialty dining. Our waiter and his assistant, Shubert and Branson, were exceptionally friendly, quick, and helpful. There was a wide variety of good food available for breakfast and lunch- all hours, at the Ocaeanview Cafe. Our room was spacious and very well planned. Our room service was thorough but unobtrusive. The exercise area was large and complete- plenty of treadmills, cycles, machines and free weights. The few negatives: The coffee was atrocious, unless you want to pay $5 a cup for it. Amazing that an otherwise outstanding product could get something as easy as coffee so wrong! If not for the coffee, I would have rated the dining 5+. The entertainment was mediocre- except for the comedian-magician Rawlings, and the acrobats, both very good. The singers couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. We thoroughly enjoyed all our excursions, which we booked privately. All our guides were prompt, waiting for us when we left the boat in the morning, and returning in plenty of time in the afternoon. In Rome and Naples we used RomeInLimo, which lived up to the superlative reviews of other travelers. Alberto was our driver in Rome, and Carmine in Naples. Mauro was our extraordinary guide for the Vatican Museum. In Kusadasi, we were met by Sedat from Melitours- the agency recommended by Rick Steves. In Santorini, we took a catamaran cruise with Santorini sailing, which was very good. In Athens, Nikos Loukas was a driver-guide for a very good city tour. Guzi took us on a great tour of Malta. Maybe the most memorable evening was sitting on the lawn listening to 70's music and singing along with our friends. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We sailed from barcelona, had good smoothe embarkation, as usual . celebrity is our favourite cruise line. this was our first time on a solstice class ship. we were aware that it carried more passengers, than other ships in the fleet on ... Read More
We sailed from barcelona, had good smoothe embarkation, as usual . celebrity is our favourite cruise line. this was our first time on a solstice class ship. we were aware that it carried more passengers, than other ships in the fleet on which we had sailed previousley. The ship is beautiful, everything about the decor was really great. The service was wonderful the cabin staff were excellent, the dining room staff the same, in fact every member of staff could not have been better. The food was not quite as good as we have experienced on other trips, but not bad. I thought that the old style of the self service restaurant was better than the islands. too much bustle. everyone wandering about without trays, looking for what they needed. this did not happen before. and there are still lines. The negatives were as follows. the lifeboat drill was carried out before we sailed as it should be, but it was held in michaels bar, we did not have to wear our lifejackets, which was ok for us, having done many drills, but for anyone who has not had to put their jacket on, was not a lot of good. there was a tv at one end of the bar, and we watched a video of the drill. but only a small percentage of the passengers, could see the tv, and were told that they could watch it in their cabins. we did not go out onto the deck, as we would have to in a real emergency, so it was not a very affective demonstration of a safe evacuation from the ship, if that were to become nessary. not good.not safe. On deck, there were too many loungers, in fact when you used one, there was no space between them, and meant that you could be too close to the people either side. There were no tables for drinks.It was very difficult to sit down, as there was not enough space to step between the loungers, so had to almost launch oneself onto the thing. Also there were hardly any chairs, for just sitting on. there were only about four or five tables outside the burger bar, with about four chairs to a table, but they were for people eating, not just for sitting on.It was the same by the pool. On the smokers there were a lot more chairs and tables than on the non smokers side. unfair. The entertainment programme, was not good. We go to seccond seating for dinner. On most evenings, we missed out because everything was perfect for first seating, diners, but most events took place whilst we were at dinner. Generally the shows were not bad but so short, just one act mostly. the main show ghost, has been shown on other ships, for quite a while, so we had seen that. Lots of the activities took place on deck 4 in the centre of the ship, with hardly any space for the ammount of people on the ship. so could be watched from above standing and looking down over the rails. I think that this ship should have had a proper entertainment loung with a real dance floor. The lawn club did nothing for my husband and i. It seems to be a complelte waste of space, with not enough sitting room. and when the grass is wet, cannot be used. i think that a small lawn would have been better, to us it was a wasted deck. the glass show was good. but that was the only attraction on that deck. hardly anyone played on the grass. its not the thing that you go to sea for surely. So i do not wish to go on any of these large ships, i loved all the others, constillation, mercury, infinity, galaxy These ships were all perfect. the whole feel of these was so good, the entertainment teams were so good catering for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Embarkation: There had been noro epidemic on prior cruise so our embarkation was later than normally. However when we arrived to pier around 13:00 we got to ship right away after check in. We got cabins 17:30. We were really tired after ... Read More
Embarkation: There had been noro epidemic on prior cruise so our embarkation was later than normally. However when we arrived to pier around 13:00 we got to ship right away after check in. We got cabins 17:30. We were really tired after waiting so long but ofcourse it is better to be on clean ship so can't give any minus points for that. Public rooms: Very clean and well kept. Cabin: Cabin was really nice and our stateroom attendant worked well. However he had forget to place some things in cabin and we had to go to guest relations couple of times. That is why I am giving only 4 points. Celebrity Life: There was alot of all kind activities. However customer demographics was quite high on this cruise and it showed on program. Culinary activities and Hot glass show were really nice. Scrap booking, psycheledelic 60s parties, ballroom dancing etc. those didn't appeal to us at all. I was expecting for more modern activities and I think that Celebrity needs to do some changes to get younger customers. Couple really small things irritated me really much on the cruise. There were 55 nationalities on board and also lot of different religions. I can't understand why they had rememberance day ceremony and sabbath service on board. I think cruise line should be neutral for all national festitivies and religions. Dining: We tried room service, buffet, main dining room and special restaurants. Room service worked well and was always on time. Food was also hot which was nice. Buffet was quite chaotic. Salads were nice but food quality otherwise wasn't really high. Main dining room mainly served good food and also service was great. There were couple too pushy waiters providing their suggestions and repeating their names like parrots to be remembered. Menu's didn't seem to have any theme. I would like to have some sort of regional theme menu for every night. Couple of time we had to return the food to kitchen because it was uneatable (cooked over done). They also made couple mistakes with our beverage package and charged extra two times for both of us. Bistro on five: Was okey, not sure if it was actually worth trying. Murano: We had really high expectations and those were not met. Lobster was really great - else was average or a bit above. Tuscan Grille: We expected less but food was really nice. Portions were a bit too big but food was tasty and prepared well. Silk Harvest: Best resturant on the Solstice. Food was really really good and service perfect. We actually went there twice because liked it so much. Can redommend. Overall I would give 4 points but Murano was so big disappoinment that will give dining 3 points overall. They shouldn't also happen any billing mistakes. Entertainment: I think entertainment was focused for older demographics and that's why it was a bit miss for us. Steve Rawlings was really good and so was the Danish illusionist Martin Brock. We only went for few show's because weren't so interested in motown music or violinist. Other entertainers were Top Notch band, guitarist, accapella group and classic music trio. Top Notch was okey but everything else was for older croud again. Service: I think service was perfect till last morning. There was one of cruise director's staff on disembarkation waiting room and he was really rude to some people. He made remarks to people behind their back like "Well you are group 1 and you even shouldn't be here" etc. He could have behaved better. Shore excursions: Celebrity excursions were well done and guides were mainly good. In Athens we had worst guide ever. She propably was pretty new on guiding and also let some souvenir salesman inside our bus when leaving from port. That was weird experience. On Orvieto excursion food was terrible and on Chania vinyard visit we decided to skip the food because there was so much flies flying around in the open kitchen area where they had prepared the food. Rates: I think prices were okey. They weren't surely cheap but not expensive either. I think cruise experience was a quite good value on money spent. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I'm a....well, let's just say middle-aged...recently single mom who went on this cruise (Solstice, 12 Night Mediterranean from November 4-16, 2011) with my 22 year old son. We both love wandering around museums and old ruins, ... Read More
I'm a....well, let's just say middle-aged...recently single mom who went on this cruise (Solstice, 12 Night Mediterranean from November 4-16, 2011) with my 22 year old son. We both love wandering around museums and old ruins, and we both prefer cooler weather to hot weather, so this seemed like a great cruise for us! We have cruised before, but I have not been on a cruise in 6 or 7 years, and was last on a Mediterranean cruise in 2002. Naturally as a young person recently out of college and working at his first "real" job, my son was particularly interested in keeping costs down. I'm just cheap, so that works for me! One of the reasons we booked this cruise was the fantastic price for a guarantee balcony cabin. We wanted to keep organized shore excursions to a minimum, and so I did lots of research prior to the cruise on options for the ports. We had a wonderful time on the cruise and would do it again without question. We were overall very happy with the ship and Celebrity. Here are some details of our cruise: We flew in from our different home cities, meeting at JFK airport for our connecting flight to Barcelona, arriving at about 6:30 the morning of the cruise. The flight was fine and uneventful and on time. There was a minimal wait for passport control and luggage and the airport was very nice. Which was a good thing because we had to wait for almost 4 hours for our Barcelona City Tour/Transfer to start. We enjoyed the tour as much as possible in our sleep-deprived state and were dropped off at the ship at about 2:45. Embarkation was chaotic--there had been norovirus on the last sailing and due to the deep-cleaning needed they delayed embarkation. By the time we got to the ship and through the registration line we were able to walk right on, which was nice. However, cabins weren't ready yet (and ended up not being ready until shortly after 6 p.m.) so we parked ourselves on the comfy padded loungers in the Solarium, got some tasty and healthy lunch from the Aqua Spa Cafe, and promptly fell asleep. We were awakened several times by announcements in 3 languages that rooms were not ready yet and the crew was grateful for our patience. I'm sure the announcements were helpful for those who weren't trying to sleep! Of course, given the norovirus situation I think Celebrity handled it all as well as possible. The cleaning must have been effective because I heard and saw nothing to indicate that there was any sickness on our cruise. Our room was nice, and very well-designed, as was the whole ship, to make the most of every inch of space. We met our room steward but then rarely saw him during the cruise--he was obviously keeping track of when we left the cabin because he did a great job keeping it clean. LOVED the shower with a door after many previous Princess cruises where I was attacked by the shower curtain throughout each shower! We chose Select dining and appreciated the flexibility it offered us to eat at whatever time suited our schedule each day. Since there were only 2 of us and we always asked for the first available table of any size, we literally NEVER had to wait for a table to become available. We met many nice folks at dinner. The food was perfectly fine, although you never really knew from the menu description what a dish would actually be! All the ingredients listed were always present, but the way they were combined was often not what I had expected. No complaints though--oh, alright, the salmon on the everyday menu was a little dry one night, and the done-ness of the beef dishes served often had little relationship to the done-ness requested. But we very much enjoyed the meals and service in the MDR. We ate in Tuscan Grille one night and enjoyed it a lot (even though it did cost extra and I'm cheap!) Every other dinner we ate in the MDR except the last formal night we didn't feel like dressing up so ate in the Oceanview--the food there was okay but would get boring if we ate there every night. Breakfast on each port day was via room service (it helped us wake up early and it was wonderful to enjoy it on the balcony--I HIGHLY recommend this!) Every day I wrote in a request for chocolate croissants and every day I got them! On sea days we ate in the dining room if we were up early enough, otherwise in the Oceanview. We ate a couple of lunches in the MDR but mostly ate in the Oceanview if on board at lunchtime. We'd been upgraded to Concierge Class so had the expanded room service breakfast menu. I never tried the smoothies due to bad reviews of them on Cruise Critic, but did enjoy many of the other options on the menu. (Probably worth mentioning that beyond a rose in the bathroom and a spray of flowers in a vase in the cabin, and the few extra items on the breakfast menu, we saw no advantages in Concierge Class. We finally opened the sparkling wine the last night of the cruise so we didn't waste it, but I"m not a fan of champagne so only choked down one glass. We saw no sign of the "pillow menu" although we didn't ask for it. We never opted to get the canapes as we were eating PLENTY without them. We did get in a slightly shorter line at embarkation but it maybe saved us 5 minutes there. Our cabin was in a fantastic location though--1048 so it was on a high deck but one with cabins above and below so quiet, very close to the elevators but again was still very quiet. And we did like the footstools on the balcony! But I would probably not pay extra for a CC room in future--although I was thrilled by the free upgrade to it!) We never tried Bistro on Five (next cruise!) or Cafe al Bacio, and we rarely ordered drinks so I can't comment too much on those, but the one umbrella drink we each had was delicious! I found the free coffee to be bearable, and I'd brought some Starbucks Via packets, so even though we are generally coffee snobs, we managed. We found all of the crew members to be helpful, friendly, etc. No complaints there. The only dissatisfier with the crew was when they announced that there was a transportation strike scheduled for Rome the day we were going to be there, and everyone should buy Celebrity shore excursions to avoid problems. As I'd been reading the port boards on Cruise Critic I was suspicious that all public transport would be on strike, especially when I found no mention of it on any of the news networks on the television. My son went down to ask if the regional trains between Civitavecchia and Rome would be on strike, and was told they would not, so we opted not to buy a Celebrity excursion. As it turned out, there was no strike at all except a partial one between 1-3 PM that was only for buses and metro in Rome itself, and we had no problems. Lots of people felt duped into buying a Celebrity excursion that day, though, and were not happy! We were very lucky with weather on the cruise. November can be pretty iffy, and we had our share of rain and thunderstorms, but they all seemed to happen on sea days while our port days were dry, cool and usually sunny. Anyone who was hoping to get a suntan laying out by the outdoor pool would have wished they had sailed earlier in the season, though. Florence was our first port, and we decided it was worth the expense to do Florence on Your Own rather than trying to mess with public transport in our jet-lagged state. I had gotten tickets for the Uffizi in advance, and had downloaded Rick Steves' podcasts for a walking tour of Florence and for the Uffizi, so we used those and had a great day. Our tour guide did a marvelous job of telling us about Florence and the area during the drive from the port, which made the ride go by quickly. Next up was Rome, where we took the train in (walked from the terminal to the train station, which was easy and took about 15 minutes) and then walked to St. Peter's (lots of signs plus you can see the dome from the train station so it would be hard to get lost!) and took the Scavi tour of the excavations beneath the cathedral, for which I'd gotten tickets in advance through the Vatican. It was a fantastic tour although anyone with claustrophobia might want to think twice--we wound our way through a lot of dim, low-ceilinged chambers that were kept very humid to preserve frescoes. After the tour we went out the door straight into St. Peter's itself, and spent some time touring there before walking back to the train station and taking the train back. I'd hoped to see the Pantheon too but we had slept in that morning and didn't have time. Next trip! Naples was the next day, and here our plan was to visit Herculaneum via public transport. It was relatively easy, following directions in Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports book, although one of the buses referred to in the book apparently does not exist anymore (at least not on the same route) and there was a pickpocket on the bus--I felt a hand go into my pocket and quickly back out, but luckily he didn't get anything. Herculaneum was amazing, and having been there before in midsummer I absolutely loved the day there with very few other visitors on this cruise. The walk back uphill to the train station wasn't fun after walking all day, but was bearable. We did, however, get off at the main train station in Naples on the way back instead of the next, correct, stop. We then found our way to the station we should have gone to (on foot) but couldn't find the bus we were supposed to catch to go back to the port, so we started walking. It was dark, and with the crazy Naples traffic and the uncertainty over whether we were heading in the right direction it was quite an adventure! We made it back to the ship with 1/2 hour to spare, however, and I'm sure I burned off all the extra calories I ate that day! Would I do it on my own like that again? Absolutely. (If we hadn't gotten back to the ship in time I might answer differently!) Next day was our second sea day and we once again attended the hot glass show. We loved this show--and how cool is it to have this on a cruise ship? We went to quite a few of them, and my son even won a vase made during the show at a raffle towards the end of the cruise. Then, we had Crete. This was a port that I felt was kind of "bleh" before the cruise, not seeing any shore excursions of interest and not finding anything in Rick Steves' book that sounded interesting. We took the 1.5 Euro bus from the port into Chania, walked around the harbor (lovely place) and visited the archaeological museum--well worth the fee. Then we spent a bit of time perusing the shops in the marketplace (didn't buy anything, as usual) and walked back to the bus. On the way we found an open-air archaeological site that was interesting to read about--thank goodness most signs there and in the museum were in English as well as Greek! All in all it was a very nice relaxing day and now I want to move to Crete! Ephesus was next--rather, the port was Kusadasi but after a lot of dithering over whether to try the "do it ourself" route here, we signed up for a ship tour that included the Selcuk archaeological museum, a tour of Ephesus including the Terrace Houses, and a "roman style" lunch at a nice hotel afterwards where we were all made to wear togas and put wreaths on our heads! It was a very silly touch but the lunch was good and even though this was by far our most expensive tour ($119 each) we are very glad we did it. The tour also included the typical "carpet demonstration" and hard-sell but they did at least give us free drinks while we watched! I think this may have been our overall favorite port day. Ephesus and the Terrace Houses are absolute must-sees if you are going to port in Kusadasi! Athens was next and we had planned a do-it-ourself day taking the metro into town and visiting the Acropolis Museum since we'd both done the usual Athens sites in previous visits. However, we decided instead to sleep in and when we finally did get up decided to just stay on the ship and relax. I would have thought someone was crazy if they told me they did this, but I have no regrets--we needed the "day off"! Another sea day and then to our last port, Malta. I'd been there before but my son hadn't so he chose the itinerary for the day, and opted for a ship's tour that was to include a harbor cruise. Unfortunately the harbor cruise was canceled as it was quite a windy morning, so we had a bus-and-walking tour of various spots on the island. The tour had apparently looked like an easy day (although I seem to recall it was listed as "moderate activity level") and we had many elderly people on our tour--some with canes and crutches, and many who had trouble doing much walking. This sort of limited what our tour guide could do as we had to spend a lot of time waiting for people to catch up on the walking portions, and have several long pauses at public bathrooms as well. For that reason it was disappointing, but Malta itself is just gorgeous and the weather was nice so we enjoyed ourselves. Oddly even though there was a sea day prior to Malta, our 3rd formal night was the night of the day we'd spent in Malta. This was the night we ate in the Oceanview, to avoid having to dress up. We definitely had "cruise fatigue" by that point! One more sea day and we were back at Barcelona the next morning to disembark. Disembarkation went very smoothly except that Delta Airlines was checking people in for our flight at the port but had VERY few workers there so the line was quite long and slow-moving. We had plenty of time though to check in and drop our luggage off, then take a taxi to the airport and wait for our flight to board. I forgot to mention activities--we attended several glass shows and really liked them. We also went to several of the lectures about various topics related to the places we visited (one on the Knights of Malta, for example) and generally liked those. They were quite well-attended and those that were held in Celebrity Central were often standing room only. We also attended about half of the nightly shows in the big theater. I'm partial to Broadway-style singing and dancing type shows, and this cruise had only a few of them. Most of the shows were solo performers of one sort or another--a comedian, a magician, several different singers and instrumentalists. Those I saw I enjoyed, but with such a port-intensive cruise it seemed that many days the show didn't sound interesting enough to be worth the energy to go see! The cruise director, Lisa, is a fabulous singer and wowed us with performances several different times. She ought to do at least one song every night! Beyond that we didn't do much as far as organized activities, but a couple of folks who we ate dinner with said there were very few night-owls on the cruise (they were disappointed that almost nobody went to the nightclub!) As might be expected during the school year, there were very few children on this cruise. In fact, I'd say at least half the passengers were 75 or over. There were a decent number of working-age adults, although more at the older end of that range than the younger. Quite a number of international passengers--announcements were done in English, Spanish, and German, and I heard quite a few British, Irish and Scottish accents as well. Once I get over my jet-lag I'll start planning my next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
My husband and I had heard Celebrity Cruises is on par with Princess. Since we have cruised Princess so many times, both being Platinum and many of the ships are the same we thought a change was in order. We were really excited to try ... Read More
My husband and I had heard Celebrity Cruises is on par with Princess. Since we have cruised Princess so many times, both being Platinum and many of the ships are the same we thought a change was in order. We were really excited to try something new. Embarkation: Wow! We just walked on about 2:00 pm. However, no one showed us where our room was or indicated how to get there. The map we were given was a cut-a-way of all the decks that really didn't help. Our experience of how ships are laid out got us there. We also knew to head up to the buffet at the top deck. Room: Wow. again. The room was about the same size as a mini-suite on Princess. Our room was a balcony with an obstructed view. The obstructed view meant that we could not see all the way to the front and back of the ship. However, that wasn't a problem, in our opinion. In addition, the bathroom has a glass door enclosed shower. Both of us could get into the bathroom! Two of our three bags arrive. After two calls to the room steward and guest relations the third bag arrives about 8:00 pm. Shore Excursions: We signed up for four shore excursions for the first four days of the cruise. A change was made to the first excursion and we were notified of the change and sent the tickets to our room our first night. We arrive back to our room after a long day the first day and realize we don't have any other tickets for the next three days. (Did I mention we paid for these BEFORE we left for the trip?) Hubby calls the shore excursion desk and they send our tickets to us as REPRINTS after 10:00 pm since they are so busy. Hmm. What happened to the first prints? In fairness to the shore excursions, we felt the hefty prices we paid were well worth it. There is no way we would have seen Nice, Monaco, French Riviera, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast in such a short a time although it was exhausting. Food on Board Hmm. This takes some thought since I want to be fair. The buffet upstairs was hit and miss. Sometimes it was good and sometimes pretty bad. We didn't know whether the food we chose would be hot, lukewarm or cold. I liked the layout but not the delivery. I saw a stir fry station with all the ingredients but no stir fry cook. I stood there but no one seemed interested in helping me. One night we got the meat balls, which were excellent. The next time we went there my husband said the meatballs were like they were just taken out of the refrigerator. If we wanted hot food at breakfast we had to stand in line and order our eggs specially cooked. After a few days, we gave up on the buffet. It seems a good choice too since the Norovirus problem. (See Norovirus heading.) The Dining Room at Lunch We tried this one day. The service was so bad that the table of two next to us left before ordering because they had waited so long just to be waited on. It took over an hour to receive our lunch. I had told my husband they had another five minutes before I walked. The waiter finally told us that it was the kitchen's fault. They didn't expect so many to eat there that day. It was the day we sailed out of Venice at 1:00 pm. The Grill My husband ordered a hamburger and fries on deck. Two men were working the grill. By the time the hamburger was made his fries and burger were cold. He described it like the three stooges were cooking it although it was only two people. The final day, I counted 27 people in line for the grill. The Dining Room We really enjoyed this, well, the service. The waiter and his assistant were excellent. I would describe the food as passable. Example: I ordered Mom's pork chop, chef's recommendation. It was a pork chop that was coated with shake n bake with a sweet sauce. You never knew what exactly you would be getting. Since I had already had an appetizer and a soup, it was no big deal. I will give the sous chef high marks. The soups were always excellent. Specialty Restaurants Tuscany Steak House Our travel agent had given us two dinners to a specialty restaurant. We chose the Tuscany Steak House. It is beautiful, overlooking the bow of the ship, about 12 foot above the wake in the very back. I ordered the fried calamari, Cesar salad, NY strip with crispy fried potato wedges and creme brulee. The Cesar dressing is made table side. The calamari batter had no salt. It was very bland. The Cesar salad was also unexciting. The lettuce was old and room temperature. The potato wedges were soggy like they had been cooked and stored under a heat lamp. The steak was good, Yay! The creme brulee was pretty in appearance but just so so. I am used to a very rich dessert. The waiter asked about the Cesar salad and I told him it was ordinary. He then proceeded to argue that all Cesar dressings are the same recipe. Knowing better, I didn't argue with him and said nothing about the rest of the meal. For crying out loud! Red Lobster has a better Cesar saIad. I'm just glad we didn't pay for it. On the TV on the ship the claim is made that the Tuscany will rival any 5 star restaurant in Europe. I say, "It will not." We resorted to the crepe restaurant for lunch the last three days at the end of the cruise. It was excellent and worth the $5 extra per person. The service and all the courses were excellent and HOT, when they should be! Also, we had breakfast in the Solarium on 12 which was very peaceful and enjoyable. Entertainment: To be fair, we were too tired much of the time because of our long days on excursions to attend the shows. We did enjoy the dance band and the DJ who played music since we are dancers. The DJ was especially cooperative in playing the music we wanted. Service: We had wonderful service in the main dining room at early sitting dinner from our waiter and his assistant. However, we never knew who the maitre'd was or who the head waiter was, if there was one. Service in the buffet was not so good. Tables were cleared slowly even when it was hard to find one during busy times. One had to seek out a waiter to buy a drink. At shows, no one approached us to buy a drink. Our room steward did an excellent job. The Norovirus: I cannot write this review without addressing this issue. It permeated the trip. Everywhere we went there were the hand sanitizers. This is a issue for me because I cannot tolerate the smell. It makes me very ill. I constantly had to dodge it. (Please be assured that I always washed my hands thoroughly.) However, why wait until the end of the cruise to serve passengers in the buffet when you had the virus on the previous cruise? There was a barricade set up to go into the shops , running the gauntlet of hand sanitizers. Obviously, I didn't go into the shops. My husband proposed buying stock in Purell as a joke. He asked a bathroom attendant how the crew were doing with the virus and he looked like a deer caught in headlights. He denied any of the crew had the illness. My husband then joked about the "disease ridden passengers". Isn't it interesting that the virus continues from cruise to cruise? Fortunately, we didn't get the dreaded virus even though we never got squirted with the disinfectant. I did research since the trip. I chose not to read any reviews before I went. The virus has really been a problem on this ship, hasn't it? Disembarkation What a free for all! I am used to Princess helping everyone get off the ship. Celebrity has virtually no one helping you find your luggage. My husband finally found the same piece of luggage that was missing the first night on the belt it was supposed to be on after 15 minutes. It appeared miraculously after all others were gone. Then we made our way to our transfer that we had paid $30 each to the airport. They loaded our luggage onto a transfer truck. Then they made us wait 30 minutes while they filled EVERY LAST SEAT on the bus! Then we arrived at the airport to find our luggage unattended on the curb. Then we missed a flight we could have caught if we had gotten there earlier because Delta cancelled our original flight. So we had an additional night in Barcelona, but that is another story. We bought a transfer from the cruise line so we would have a smooth transition to the airport. I talked to the young women in charge. She worked for the port, not for the cruise line. It cost us twice as much as a taxi to book through the cruise line. Another life lesson learned Conclusion: If you view the Celebrity Solstice as a floating hotel to get you to the ports in the Mediterranean you want to see with adequate meals, it is worth it. My husband and I don't regret the cruise. We would never have been to all the places in Europe. The pros outweigh the cons. The ship is not the important component of this cruise. We were wowed by the destinations. Our opinion is that the Celebrity Solstice is not equivalent to a Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean where we visited a total of 8 ports. two of which where at best "marginal". Kotor and Dubrovnik where the the two. Shore excursions had obviously never ... Read More
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean where we visited a total of 8 ports. two of which where at best "marginal". Kotor and Dubrovnik where the the two. Shore excursions had obviously never been on either of the two tours or they would have undoubtedly canceled them both and re-vamped them. Kotor was a long bus ride up a mountain side with no room for anyone to pass in either direction. The hairpin turns and hundreds of feet drop offs made the trip exteremly dangerous. certainly we would not recoomend it. We would recommend that someone re-look at this excursion. Dubrovnik. A really nice old town taht we would have liked to have spent more time in. but shore Excursions struck again and took everyone for a long bus ride to a quaint restaurant that served us a stale piece of bread topped with a piece of cheese and another piece of the same bread with something they called Ham but it was more like tongue to us. Hardly anybody (out of two bus loads) ate any of it. Upon returning to Dubrovnik, many people left the bus and told the driver they would take a taxi back to the ship as the bus tour left us with very little time in the town. Another tour that needs re-assessing. Arriving in Rome on All Saints Day, a Memorial Day Holiday and an annual Marathon Run that began and ended at St Peter's Square was perhaps the biggest faux pas. We couldn't get close to the Square nor the basilica. Everything else including The Vatican was closed. Finally Marseilles. Another long ride in a bus. Someone in Shore excursions must have at one time worked for greyhound or Trailways as just about every ship tour involved a long bus ride to the highest point to take a few pictures while everyone wanted to be on the ground in the city buying souvenirs. No more ship excursions for us. the Private Tours (of which we took four) we far better. Far better. Those we highly recommend. All in all the cruise was disappointing. the schedule was heavy, very little time to rest. A day or two at sea would have been very welcome. we did have two days at sea for the very beginning, but they were really need somewhere in the middle, to give folks a chance to catch their breath. celebrity themselves were perfect as usual the dining was excellent and cabin service very good. one comment for them. you could have done without the Glass blowing on the aft section of the ship and put the grill there out of the wind and gained more room. putting the grill on the Port side in the direct wind was not all that great. we didn't see a lot of people using it. Sincerely Terry Hensey. Soltice Oct 23rd. Venice and the Med. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Celebrity Solstice Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 5.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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