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Sail Date: June 2012
We've just arrived home after a 2 month journey through Europe hence the delay in posting a review of our cruising experience! The last time Mr A found himself cruising its was as a travel agent in the mid 90's on a ... Read More
We've just arrived home after a 2 month journey through Europe hence the delay in posting a review of our cruising experience! The last time Mr A found himself cruising its was as a travel agent in the mid 90's on a 'famil' (a free trip) on board a dodgy ship between DRW and SIN. For Mrs R it was even earlier - migrating with family to the States as a three year old in the late 60's. Fair to say memories of what to expect were somewhat hazy! Add to the mix we were travelling with Miss J, a three and half year old who had just been stimulated with 5 days at Disneyland Paris. After considerable research on these and other forums we selected a Celebrity cruise out of BCN over others based on the premium experience it offered. However there was apprehension about what the cruise might offer a 3.5 y.o. as the forums were generally silent on the experience of families travelling with young children, particularly through the Mediterranean. Would the kids club meet expectations? On a cruise that geared towards the 40-60 y.o. empty nesters would there be enough kids on board for Miss J to befriend? What a surprise. Whilst there were less than 100 kids onboard Miss J had a ball. Shy and very reluctant at first, a visit the kids club became a firm favourite. This was helped by the warm friendly greetings of the youth counsellors and the small number in her age group. The waiting staff in the grand dining room treated Miss J like a princess, engaging with her and bringing her out of her shell. The many, many friendly interactions with a host of the ship's staff made a firm impression on Miss J and she would excitedly recount the people she had engaged with during the day. Speaking to another parent, an seasoned cruiser travelling with an 8 year old, we were surprised to learn their child enjoyed and preferred the Celebrity Solstice over the Disney cruises. The 8 year old like the Celebrity Solstice because there was less children on board, an uncrowded kids club and it was easier for the young one to make friends. For us the dining experience, the pool, after dinner shows, a well appointed stateroom cleaned and serviced twice a day and the kids club all exceeded expectations. On the issue of shore excursions a travel agent reminded me of the power of the internet. A little research before departure saw us book private tours (e.g bike tour through Rome, guide with car in Naples). These memorable tours better suited what we wanted to experience rather than large group generic offerings of the cruise company. Post holiday we play this little game with Miss J, asking her 'from the following three travel experiences which one was your favourite?' The Celebrity Cruise is at the top narrowly pipping other highlights such as Disneyland Paris, climbing the Eiffel Tower, Legoland Germany, and sledding on snow in Switzerland. That says something about how much she really enjoyed her cruising experience! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
Well...I looked forward to a vacation like this for years....this was our 30th cruise...but never been to europe before...mostly carribbean, puerto rico, st. john, etc...did an alaskan and a panama canal one...and mexican riveria...we our ... Read More
Well...I looked forward to a vacation like this for years....this was our 30th cruise...but never been to europe before...mostly carribbean, puerto rico, st. john, etc...did an alaskan and a panama canal one...and mexican riveria...we our vip on carnival....a few rcc....a few ncl....one holland american....one princess...first time on celebrity...We booked everything including airfare with celebrity...we chose our excursions ahead of time. We are from the Tampa Bay area....so we flew from Tampa to Atlanta and then on to Barcelona...we left Tampa about 1:30 and arrived in Spain around 8:30 am...day of cruise...my one regret is that we didn't get to see much of Barcelona...the airport...and the port....If I were to do it again...i would probably stay a few days later and enjoy this city as well. embarkation went very smootly..we had transfers from airport to the ship...got into line and on ship right away...rooms were not ready till 1:30...so we went on deck and ate lunch. CABIN:...remarkable..we had a balcony room....the bathroom was the largest we have ever had...more compartments to fill then any other ship....huge shower....it was great...I was a bit concerned with closets at first....there were only two..and we are use to 3 to 4....after deciding where to put things....we also discovered that the room had 5 drawers near the desk....and also above the bed was more storage...so....putting everything away for a 12 night trip was no problem. The room had a very large safe and easy to operate...Beds were comfortable and soft..and our room steward, Duvor was excellent. FOOD: we had late seating...and on this boat that was 8:45...if I had to do this again, I would have chose earlier. When we got back from long excursions.....we just wanted to shower, eat and go to bed!...so earlier would have been better....When we did eat in the main dining hall...it was lovely...great steaks! Service was fantastic....we ate once in the Tuscany...they offered a 20% discount and we took them up on it.....It was Fabulous..had a filet mignon....My friends went to Silk Harvest...and I ordered room service that night....they said they enjoyed it....Room service had a wide menu...i got some chicken wings and quesodias....we also ordered breakfast a few times in the room. The one disappointing food item would be the cafeteria...buffet...at first...it was fantastic...until you found out that it really didn't change the 12 days we were at sea. Some nights we were tired from the excursions..that we would eat in here...and they had the same food..day in...day out....we are use to the buffet changing....matter of fact..the Allure...has the same menu in the buffet as it does in the Restaurant.....we loved that! Don't miss the pasta bar...it was the best....they do offer several sorbet's and ice cream....desserts were abundant and some of the best.... Casino....one word...SMALL...we enjoy going to the casino after dinner and play the penny slots....not much of a variety here...only good thing..NO SMOKING....it was nice Shops are a little strange in the fact that they are on both floors 4 and 5....we didn't frequent much of floor 5...so we missed those shops most of the time...they did have a 75% sale off of there logo merchandise.... SHOWS:....ummmm...how do i say this....BORING!...this is where it really fell down...singers that can't really sing...the only night I enjoyed was a 70's party..were they got dressed up and played songs from that era...other than that.....we entertained ourselves playing cards, casino, reading...etc.... EXCUrSIONS:...one word...WOW...being that this was a first time for all of us..there were 2 couples...we were in awe of everything..... SPLIT croatia...lovely...very clean...went to see a sculptures house, museum and shopping district....very clean and lovely.... Venice:...one word...BREATHTAKING...I kept saying to myself..am I really here?....just a beautiful city with lovely people...lots of bakeries...and gelato on every corner. KOTOR, montenegro....I have to admit I never heard of this place before..its a country that was formed from the breakup of Yugoslavia....well...this was a lovely surprise...I loved it soooo much, I wouldn't mind living there...very friendly....clean...old city...one of the best Naples:....we took a tour of a vineyard here...it was lovely...had pizza and enjoyed the bakery...beautiful monuments...statues...etc. ROME:...busy city....but lovely old world culture abounds.....trevi fountain...vatican...st peters basilica....just breathtaking FLorence:....lovely....went on a ten hour tour and it was just great Toulon...we opted for a tour of Marsielle...this was a little disappointing...we went to the famous churn onto of the mountain.....the guide did not go in with us...so we had to guess at what we were looking at...In Italy...all the guides went in and described everything to us...then there was sooooo much traffic....they gave us an hour in the city to shop...really..an hour?.....much more time was needed on this excursion.... Disebarkation went as smoothly as the beginning..... all in all this was a lovely vacation.....Not sure if I would Immediately book on Celebrity again.....our favorite is still Carnival , with RCCL ALLure in second place Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
Our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice was by far the best cruise my husband and I have taken. The ship is gorgeous. Our suite was large with more than enough room to store the ridiculous amount of items we brought. Even though the ship ... Read More
Our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice was by far the best cruise my husband and I have taken. The ship is gorgeous. Our suite was large with more than enough room to store the ridiculous amount of items we brought. Even though the ship had upwards of 2,000 passengers, I never felt crowded. There were more than enough chaises around the pool, seats at the shows, tables at the largest casino I have ever seen at sea and never a long wait for an elevator. The staff made us feel special. Any time we were in need of a staff member, they were there in a NY minute. Having breakfast served every morning on the veranda by our butler, Dominick, was a fantasy come true. We always had a bowl of fresh fruit and fresh flowers in our room. Every day at 4:30 Dominick would deliver hor doerves, sandwiches, desserts to our room. This was wonderful as we chose the late dinner. The food was excellent. The regular dining was special. I cannot think of one meal or item that was disappointing. It was all great. We also dined at 2 specialty restaurants Murano's and Tuscan Grill. Those dinners were special and the service was spectacular. The only thing I did not care for was the entertainment. When I first heard the performers who played the lounges and around the pool, I thought they were wonderful...but after Day 5, I was bored with the same acts over and over again. Also, I am not a Cirque de Soleil fan, and many of the shows featured that type of entertainment. The best performer on the ship was Mario (I cannot remember his last name, sorry Mario). Mario plays a mean guitar and has a wonderfully entertaining way with the audience. I could have watched him every night without getting bored. He performed at 2 of the shows. I loved all the ports except Naples. This was my second time there and the second time I was robbed. Be aware. I was texting and my phone was ripped out of my hands by a thief who was sitting on the back of a scooter. He was able to make a quick get-away.To sum it up, the next time I book a cruise, it will be on Celebrity. I am their #1 Fan. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
My husband, my 25 year old son and myself thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Celebrity Solstice. Upon check-in we were upgraded to a Royal Suite which was like a nice one bedroom apartment. The Master bedroom and bathroom were spacious ... Read More
My husband, my 25 year old son and myself thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Celebrity Solstice. Upon check-in we were upgraded to a Royal Suite which was like a nice one bedroom apartment. The Master bedroom and bathroom were spacious and extremely comfortable and always clean. The suite included a full master bath with two sinks, a hot tub and a large separate shower. There was a second half bath near the kitchen and dining area. The large living room included a sofa bed and a shorter sofa with tables and a 52 inch t.v. The master bedroom had a 42 inch t.v. (unfortunately the Apple interface didn't work...couldn't access the Navigation and the Internet was extremely slow. This may be to being at sea...we didn't really watch t.v as there was so much to do on the ship and on the excursions. But faster Internet is needed as it was our only way to communicate with our friends and family in the U.S.) Our suite came with a large balcony which included another hot tub, chaise lounge, two chairs and a table. It was wonderful...some days we didn't want to leave our suite. Please see the photos on the celebrity website for details...very accurate photos. The Royal suite entitles you to Butler service and Jonathan our butler was excellent; always helpful and attentive but careful not to disturb us. Theresa our housekeeper was equally competent and seemed genuinely happy to serve us. All of the facilities on board were clean, sanitized and shined. The food was excellent as were the servers in the Grand Dining Room; Dragon and Annya were the best. I liked being waited on without feeling awkward and they knew how to make us comfortable. We also ate at the Tuscan and the Murano; two of their specialty restaurants. The lobster flam beau, cooked at your table was the best lobster that I've ever had...my son and husband loved their petite filet mignon. There was always plenty of food, actually I think the entrees could be half the size, but I doubt if many would agree with me as people like their meals. The chef did visit our table and asked for suggestions and explained to us that the menu is International cuisine...yes, but with a definite French influence...no complaints there. The chocolate souffle and the goat cheese souffle were superb.(Not significant, but some passengers wondered where the popcorn was...I wanted a grilled cheese sand which and chicken noodle soup and never saw either one. Maybe you can order them but I didn't try.)I've cruised before and by far Celebrity does it best. Their service is unbeatable for a cruise ship...the staff doesn't seem tired or annoyed with all the passengers as I've experienced on other cruise ships. They are all friendly and respectful...just amazing in terms of their training and attitude. My son commented that he wished we had that kind of service in our home town. The cleanliness is also impressive given that there are almost 3,000 passengers on board; much cleaner than any hotel I've ever frequented. I truly wish I was still on board...I miss my Royal Suite and meals. Now back to reality. P.S. The ship excursions were very informative and worth the money. All of the tour guides were knowledgeable and kind. Thank you Celebrity for the best trip my family has ever experienced. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
We have just completed a 12-night cruise of the Mediterranean on the Celebrity Solstice. We enjoyed it enough to sign up for another Celebrity cruise on-board. The Celebrity Solstice is not the absolute top of the line in cruise ships, ... Read More
We have just completed a 12-night cruise of the Mediterranean on the Celebrity Solstice. We enjoyed it enough to sign up for another Celebrity cruise on-board. The Celebrity Solstice is not the absolute top of the line in cruise ships, but it does provide value for money. We had a Concierge veranda stateroom. The stateroom was functional, the bathroom was a reasonable size, and the balcony provided room for the two of us to stretch out watch the waves go by. Our attendants were pleasant and helpful, although we didn't require much beyond the standard things. The only criticism I would have is that Celebrity has chosen an Apple network to drive the stateroom TV communications and I am not sure it is up to the task. The signal would tend to freeze up. Not a big deal for us -- we didn't watch it much anyway. We chose the fixed time dinner option. For us the early sitting suited us well -- we had a number of early start shore excursions and were not interested in partying all night. We were fortunate in our dinner companions, and having dinner with them became a fun part of the cruise. The food in the main dining room was good. The dinner menu had two sides to it. The left side never changed and provided some basic standbys such as NY Strip Steak. The right side was different every evening. I like to try things I have not eaten before, so I almost always ended up choosing from the right side. Things were not always perfect, some folks at our table had trouble getting a steak the way they wanted it and the fish on one occasion was dry. However, the wait staff fell over themselves in getting the problems corrected. We didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants because we were happy dining in the main dining room. Breakfast and lunch we took in the cafeteria style Ocean View Cafe. Plenty of good choices to pick from. We never had a problem finding a table either, which can sometimes be a problem in those environments. We had signed up for Celebrity shore excursions for five of the seven ports we visited. We were happy with all of them. Generally the shore excursions were well organized; you checked in at the main theatre, they gave you a numbered batch and called each excursion by number. The tour guide and the bus displayed the number prominently so even in the mad crush of the Acropolis it was easy to follow. There was a different show every night. A resident production cast put on three different production shows. There were five guest artists and the remaining four shows were variety shows featuring the production cast and guest artists. The quality was good -- not great -- but certainly enjoyable. The humor would sometimes get a bit edgy. This didn't worry me, but there were some folks at our dinner table that didn't care for it. In addition to the shows there were various musical acts that would perform in different parts of the ship at different times. Most passengers seemed to have at least one they would make a point of listening to -- depending more on style than ability. There were enough other activities that we never got bored. We only paid extra for one -- a wine tasting. Well, if you discount drinking and gambling. One of the families at our dinner table had a 10 -- year old son. They purposefully chose a cruise with a more limited kids program because they thought that would suit him better. He certainly seemed to enjoy himself. Formal nights were not super-formal. I had rented a tux because I didn't want to be lugging a tux or suit to Europe with me. Probably about half of the men wore tuxes, close to half wore a suit, and there was a smattering of guys that couldn't be bothered to do either. For our next cruise I will probably take a suit. I don't know how full the cruise was -- they always seemed to be space, we never felt crowded. All in all, a good experience and we are ready to do it again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
12 Night MedCruise on Solstice May 2012 Perspective: We are both 50ish ;). We have cruised 25 or so times mainly on main stream cruises, and did cruise once on Crystal. We favor value for the buck and cruising off season away from ... Read More
12 Night MedCruise on Solstice May 2012 Perspective: We are both 50ish ;). We have cruised 25 or so times mainly on main stream cruises, and did cruise once on Crystal. We favor value for the buck and cruising off season away from school holidays. Usually we cruise just to be on a ship and enjoy a relaxing vacation. This cruise it was about the ports. Pre-Cruise: We purchased a roundtrip ticket on AA to Barcelona. AA did just fine. We arrived 3 days early for sightseeing in Barcelona. We used the Aeroport bus service because one of the drops in Barcelona was only a few hundred yards from our hotel. This works great and saves money if your hotel is close by; otherwise a taxi may be the best bet. The first day of arrival was mainly used to adjust to the time and to revisit many of the sites that we have toured before in Barcelona. The full day of sight seeing was for Plau Guell and Parc de Ciutat. We used the T10 Metro ticket. Embarkation: Our hotel had an 11:00 am checkout time. Checked out then and pulled luggage to taxi stand. Taxi was quick and easy to port. We paid €25 for service from Plaza Catalouana to the port with 5 bags, this may have been a bit high but close enough. Porter met us at taxi for checked bags; he provided luggage tags. We went straight in to port security which was a breeze, no mention of the bottles of wine that we had in our checked luggage. No lines anywhere. We then did the Celebrity check in. Since we are Select there were no lines. We got a letter informing us that the ship was doing extra cleaning for norovirus and that we would be a bit delayed getting to rooms but the sailing would not be delayed. We were called shortly after 1 to board. Cabin: We had an inside cabin. We booked a guarantee inside. We were assigned aft on deck 8. The room was large, probably one of the 200 square foot ones and layed out very well. Very nice for the times we order room service. Loved the decorating scheme and the bathroom layout. There were two easy chairs and one desk chair, no loveseat. Bed was comfortable with pillowtop and duvet. Hanging closet was small but adequate. One of the best inside cabins we have ever enjoyed. Safe was large and worked fine. Our AC dial was labled with red and blue arrows to show temperature adjustment. We adjusted it quite often since our weather varied from hot to cold and rainy. Cabin was serviced twice daily. It was very clean with very little wear noticeable. Three cute towel animals. Our attendants were very efficient and friendly; small communication problem but all was worked out. Overall Service: Excellent. Food: Beverages - We carried on bottled water both at embarcation and from port visits. We carried on wine. There is a corkage fee of $25. After late days in port we had room service one night and enjoyed our carried on wine with no corkage fee. Since Celebrity allows ordering from the MDR at night this was a delightful experinece. The food from the nightly menu including the always available New York strip steak. It was excellent. Wine list was varied and offered at good price points. Celebrity still has sommeliers. Our sommelier was good and added to our dining experience. For Breakfast, we did room service three days. There was the call telling us they were on their way and then the delivery. All breakfast items were as ordered. We ordered before the hot breakfast started at 6:30am on early port days from the contintenal breakfast menu and the always available menu. The Oceanview Cafe was the best buffet we have experienced on mass market lines. Large selections. Most stations were nice and hot, a few not so much. For breakfast, they prepare eggs and omelettes to order. Lots of meat, potatoes, fruit, and cereals. For lunch, there is a good variety, a hot service line, salads, pasta, pizza, curries and stirfries. There are tea type foods in the PM followed by sushi in the late afternoon. All presented nicely. Handmade ice cream was excellent. Aqua Spa Cafe ( no extra charge for food) was excellent as well. We only had lunch there. We ordered the salmon or tuna several times. We also had the salads. We ordered a carafe (355 ml) of wine for our lunch at around $11.00. Seating is limited. We could normally get a seat and sometimes shared a table which is a great way to meet others. For dinner, we had the late seating in the Grand Epernay Dining Room. We thought the room was beatiful and took time to look at the wine tower. We were seated at a table for two. Service was excellent and professional. Waiter always shared the chef's recommendation as well as his own. Everything that was the waiter's recommendation was indeed excellent. Celebrity shines in their traditional approach to dinner. They still have formal nights and dinner served by courses. Most nights we had an appetizer, soup or salad (sometimes both), entrees and desserts with coffee. Many times added extra items such as an extra appetizer or entree and the waiter served it seamlessly into the flow of our meal. One advantage of being at a table for two. Some stand outs in the dining room were -- Escargots returned to the always available menu, the beef dishes especially the New York Strip steak were very good (on most lines we avoid steak), the duck a la orange, lamb chops, lobster, and risottos. We enjoyed the salads and the handmade dressings. They are better than any other lines. We did not try the specialty restaurants. No need; the dining room was excellent. Entertainment: We enjoyed the different small ensemble musicians throughout the ship. On sea days they play in many places several times of day. For example, we enjoyed the flamenco guitarist at the Sunset Bar next to the lawn on afternoon. There was also a jazz ensemble and classical trio. In addition they have a great cover band, Intenze. There is a DJ that plays various kinds of dance music including ballroom maybe for the European market. Several nights they have special parties that feature the band and the dancers from the showroom. Some of the parties are held in the Sky Lounge and some in the Atrium. Our favorite was the 60s party held in the atrium, the showroom staff had great costumes and choreography. Totally unique and enjoyble, people watched from many levels all around the atrium. There were several parties of this magnitude. There are many bars with very good and varied atmospheres. Happy hours are offered daily. There are events called Celebrity life. Some include interaction with the ship's officers and staff. These events were a great success. The lectures were also well attended. Sometimes the venues were too small for the number of participants. There was a nightly show in the showroom each night at two times for the two dining times. Sometimes the early show was for late dining and others the show was after dinner. The shows were similar to the ones on other major lines. We enjoyed them. The main pool area and the solarium are very beautiful areas. Nicer than most ships. But they do get very crowded on sea days. Every seat will be saved or have a body in them around 10 in the morning on a sea day. Staff did not remove items obviously saving chairs, but some passengers did. The running track is a nightmare on sea days. It is on the level above the main pool. Anytime from 7AM to 7PM it is crowded with wanderers and even loungers who have no concept that others are trying to use it for exercise. The gym is nice. Good variety of equipment. Occasionally crowded on sea days, but that always happens when everyone wants to exercise at the same time. Wait awhile and it's almost empty. Did not use the for-pay services in the spa area. The locker/changing room, showers, and sauna are very nice and don't get crowded. The Lawn Club and Glass Blowing area is a unique feature of the Solstice. We enjoyed this area very much. There was laid back entertainment like the glass blowing shows, putting contest, bocchi ball, and music. Plus the aft views were fantastic. We vote for leaving the area as is and not upgrading to revenue generating venues like on Solstice's sister ships. The internet room and staff were very nice. Very patient explaining that the onboard service is not broadband and slower than what most of us are used to. They even warned us the one day that the service was not working right because of bad weather which saved us sitting down and experiencing it ourselves. We used it to check email and to get an airline boarding pass. The Casino is attractive; but was not very busy on this port intensive cruise. They have the usual arcade games plus a real blackjack table where they deal about 6 decks deep into an 8 deck shoe, $6 minimum bet. They have some of the popular slots. They did a few promotions including playing blackjack with the Celebrity staff. Ports of Call: Started in Barcelona which makes a good embarcation port. The airport is not far from the city and there are several transportation options depending on your budget -- trains, buses, and taxis. The pros and cons of each are discussed on the ports of calls page. Each time we visit Barcelona we visit a Gaudi site, this time it was Plau Guell which had been closed for restoration on our previous visits. Great way to spend a half day. Naples -- Port area is run down. We visited Pompeii on our own following the advice given here on Cruise Critic in the ports of call boards. Very easy, affordable, and worthwhile. Venice -- We overnighted in Venice. The first day had great weather and the second had very bad. We purchased the 24hr valporetto pass for €20 each which made it one of the more expensive DIY ports that we visited. Definitely enjoyed cruising the grand canal. St. Mark's square gets very crowded. Recommend a short visit there and spend more time at some of the other sites in Venice or just walking, browzing, and riding the valporetto. Dubrovnik -- We did a city walk inside the walls which we enjoyed. We walked in the morning then ate on the ship and rested a bit. Then went back out for the afternoon. Celebrity offered a shuttle pass for $12 each which worked great with no waits. Rome -- Again using the advice from the Cruise Critic boards, we toured on our own. Took the train (BIRG ticket) for €9 each that provided train, metro, and bus transportation for the day. We focused on the Coliseum, Palatine, Forum, a few churches (beaurtiful art and no entry charge), Piazza Navona and Piazza Venizia. La Spezia - This port is sometimes listed as Florence but it is about 1 and ½ drive from Florence with no direct train service. We hired a private tour for Lucca and Florence. Since we had lots of rain, having a private tour allowed for us to enjoy the sites and stay relatively dry by adjusting the day to fit the elements. Ajaccio, Corisa -- Another day of just walking inside the city. Saw the statues of Napoleon who was born here. Rained most of the afternoon. Toulon -- Similar to La Spezia, this port is a bit hard to get to many sites from. Takes awhile to even get to mass transport like trains and not a lot of direct cities are served. We opted for a Celebrity tour to Marseille, Sanary Sur Mar, and Cassis. Weather did not cooperate in the morning with pouring rain, the afternoon was very nice. Tour was a good value. Disembarkation: We had a fairly early flight at 11:20 am. We booked the Celebrity transfer. It was well organized and went as scheduled. We were to leave the theater at 7:45 which we did, collected luggage, dropped luggage on a truck for transferring, boarded a separate bus for transport, and we checked in for our flight a little under 2 hours early. Turns out there were plenty of taxis and a taxi would have been as easy and quicker. Summary: This was a very port intensive cruise and we tried to pace ourselves. We saw as much as our poor feet would allow but still could visit each port several more times. Visiting the ports was the highlight of the trip. The cruise experience itself was also one of the best we have had in 25 or so curises. Celebrity has a winner in the Solstice class ships. They offer the newer features of cruising plus the traditional features. We currently will look at the Solstice class first for our next cruise which says it all ?. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We have just arrived home from the Celebrity Solstice after 12 days in the Med from the 4th November 2011. Embarkation: Due to the fact that they had about 100 cases of Noravirus on the previous cruise Celebrity decided to have a deep ... Read More
We have just arrived home from the Celebrity Solstice after 12 days in the Med from the 4th November 2011. Embarkation: Due to the fact that they had about 100 cases of Noravirus on the previous cruise Celebrity decided to have a deep clean of the ship which meant that they could not let us on the until 3pm and we could not get into our stateroom until 5.30pm, in fact we were so late that muster drill was left until 10 o'clock the following morning (god knows what would have happened if they had a problem that night) The deep clean worked because we had no problems during the whole 12 days. Stateroom: I still think that the Solstice class ships have the best rooms and the Stateroom attendant and his assistant were fantastic. Main Restaurant: We were a party of four and had a two other people with us on the table we all got on very well and had a good time. The food was top quality and the service was also excellent Sanjay and his assistant very efficient and attentive but not overpowering. We heard some people complaining that the food was cold but we never had that problem in fact one of our party burned their mouth on the soup. Murano's: We had dinner in Murano's one night and found the quality of the food and service to be excellent but not sure it was worth the extra cost when the main dinning room food was so good but it is nice to have a change of venue for one night. Ocean View Restaurant: Due to the problems of Noravirus on the previous Cruise the staff had to serve you for the first 3 days but after that everything went back to normal, if I had a problem it was that the ship did not give us reasons for their actions or how long it would go on for I had to ask on two occasion how long the the loss of self service would continue. First day at sea was wet ALL day but we spent the day in the indoor pool and had a good time. Second day: We were in Livorno and decided not to go to Florence as we had been there a few times before and got the shuttle bus ($8each) into the town and had a look around not much there but we enjoyed the day. Third day: Civitavecchia, we had been to Rome a few times and again decided to get the shuttle bus (free)into the town we found a great open air Market and the town has a great beach promenade I would recommend a visit to this town. Fourth Day: Naples, We did Pompeii and had a good day, it helps if you have a good guide which we did. day five: Crete, We had a taxi to show us round some of the island again a good day and we liked the island. day six: Turkey, we did shopping and looked round the town checked out the carpet shop we love the Turkish people very friendly. Day seven: Day at sea weather was good. day eight: Athens, very cold windy and a bad guide on our tour of the city, best forgotten. Day nine: Day at sea weather average. Day ten: Malta, got a taxi round part of Malta, it was well worth a visit In fact we have decided to to visit the island some time in the near future. Day eleven: Day at sea day twelve: Disembarkation: As our flight was early we decided to carry off our own luggage, we got a 6.30am slot but left the ship at 7.20 with no problems at all, very smooth. We had a great cruise weather was very average but it was November. Complaints... The brunch was moved from the main Restaurant to the Ocean view cafe BIG mistake it lost it's whole class and hope it doesn't happen again. CD and her whole staff were first class Zac had a great sense of humour (CD had a great voice) I hope Celebrity never get rid of the Orchestra's on their ships they add something special to the entertainment. Entertainers were OK I will leave it at that. Overall I would recommend this ship. by the way Errol in the passport bar was great. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
It does rain in Spain. Our pre-cruise 3 days of Barcelona was very wet. Stayed in Eric Voelkel suites which was great for our group of 4. We reached the ship by blue bus (2 Euros). The ship was cleaned over and over again because of all ... Read More
It does rain in Spain. Our pre-cruise 3 days of Barcelona was very wet. Stayed in Eric Voelkel suites which was great for our group of 4. We reached the ship by blue bus (2 Euros). The ship was cleaned over and over again because of all the previous illnesses. We were able to get into our cabin by 2PM. We were in concierge and the cabin was very nice and roomy. Lots of Storage space. Large shower. We met with cruise critic folks on embarkation on deck 14. Nice to meet and greet. However the connections party that we signed up for did not happen. We were told that that was on embarkation. I did contact the cruise director asking if this was a change in policy. To my surprise we found an invitation in our cabin for a cruise critic get together the next morning. It was however not well attended by the staff. Too bad!!! Our first stop Villefranche was cancelled because of the port beeing damaged but we were never informed. Many passengers got emails and advanced information. Our ports of Cannes, Livorno, Civitavechia, Neaples, Dubrovnick, Venice and Kotor were wonderful. We never do ships tours and were able to secure private Taxis or local transportation in most ports for the 4 of us. The ship is still nice but getting older. The library was a huge disappointment because the shelves were bare and not what we were used to from other celebrity cruises.The staff of the Solstice were without exceptions outstanding as was the food. All our meals were served nicely and tasted wonderful. We had early seating which makes it difficult to see a show if you are an early riser. My next cruise we will take select dining and try to see more shows. The ones we saw were very good. Unfortunately the 4 of us got respiratory illnesses but that was far better than all the viruses on board. Half through the cruise the self service buffet on deck 14 was changed to staff serving. I had to go to the doctors office but was told that the consultation was $125. I ended up purchasing Sudafed at .60 cents a pill at the coast of $15. Everywhere we went guests were sick. While the staff dispensed sanitizer and cleaned the ship endlessly.In Barcelona all B2B had to get off the ship for further cleaning.Please go prepared. All in all we enjoyed our cruise and enjoyed the ages and nationalities of the guests on board. The ship never felt crowded even though it was sold out. Disembarkation was the fastest we have ever seen and done very well. We even added on a day in Barcelona before returning and this time the sun shined on us. Now we look forward to our next adventure. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We flew into Barcelona on Nov. 14th after a 7 hr. layover in JFK. We started at 6:45 am from West Palm Beach, FL on JetBlue which was a great flight and then transferred to American for Barcelona. We used the train outside the JFK ... Read More
We flew into Barcelona on Nov. 14th after a 7 hr. layover in JFK. We started at 6:45 am from West Palm Beach, FL on JetBlue which was a great flight and then transferred to American for Barcelona. We used the train outside the JFK airport to go from terminal 5 to terminal 8 and had to go back through secruity but were at our gate within 1 1/2. We landed in Barcelona at 7:10 am went through Customs, got a cab at went to the W Barcelona immediately. We were immediately upgraded to an oceanview on floor 5 and allowed to check in. We were very happy with our stay at the W Barcelona and we got a great price on Priceline.com for $180.00 when I bid for it. I really did not expect to get it. It was raining in Barcelona so we decided to sleep for a few hrs. and see how the weather was. We awoke about 1:00PM and it was raining hard so decided to just stay at the hotel and eat in the bar. It was $62.00 for two hamburgers and 4 diet cokes. But it was good and convenient. We went back to sleep and then checked out the next morning, got a cab to the port for 30 euros and checked in and was on board by 11:00 am. We went to the buffet and ate and started exploring the Solstice. We had taken a cruise the previous year on the Solstice so looked around a bit and at 1:30 PM went to our cabin. About an hr. later we got all of our luggage and proceeded to hang up and put away all of our clothes and store the empty luggage under the bed. We had the lifeboat drill at 4:30 PM and then at 5:00 PM sailed out of Barcelona harbor. We had Celebrity Select Dining so every night we were at the doors at 6:00 PM to request a table for two by the window when possible. They accomodated us almost every night. The food was very good and the service was excellent also. I could not find anything to complain about on the cruise. We are very happy with Celebrity and they are now our #1 cruiseline. We arrived at every port on time but we did have to change the first port from Nice, France to Cannes, France because of damage to the docks from two weeks previous. We did three private tours in Florence, Rome and Naples with RomeinLimo and they were all excellent. We always got back on time. We just walked around Cannes, France and had sunny weather, private excursion in Florence, Rome and Naples, in Dubrovnik we took the ships tour of the family cablecar ride to the top and it is well worth it with a short walk through the walled city. This was the only port that it rained, other than Barcelona. In Venice we took the public water transportation (can't remember the name)to St. Mark's Square and walked around a little and then went back to the ship. The next morning we walked around for a couple of hours and then prepared for the sailaway in Venice which is spectacular. Took alot of pictures sailing in and out of the Grand Canal in Venice. We then went to Kotor Montenegro and the sail in through the fjords was spectacular. Get your cameras ready for that one. We had sunny weather in all ports except Dubrovnik. It was great. We took the ship's excursion of the Montenegro hightlights with cuisine and was not that happy with it. It was too much riding in the bus to get a few pictures of the ship in the fjord down below and then it was all back country and nothing to see. We did have a great lunch of veal prepared by a local restaurant and that proved to be the highlight of this excursion. By the time we got back it was already dark so we just went back to the ship. We met alot of nice people and did the private excursions with fellow cruise critic members which really made the cruise great. All in all this has to be one of our best cruises ever with Rome being our favorite stop of all. The Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Collesium, Trevi Fountain were great. In Florience the Leaning Tower of Piza was great and in Naples the private tour that we had of Pompeii was outstanding and the Amalfi Coast was beautiful. Thanks to Celebrity for another great cruise. We will be back. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We flew into rainy Barcelona the day of the cruise and started off by having our debit card "eaten" by the ATM machine in the airport. Luckily, we were able to use a credit card to take a taxi to the ship, but were unable to ... Read More
We flew into rainy Barcelona the day of the cruise and started off by having our debit card "eaten" by the ATM machine in the airport. Luckily, we were able to use a credit card to take a taxi to the ship, but were unable to board due to the previous cruise having a massive outbreak of norovirus. We availed ourselves of the free Celebrity shuttle to Las Ramblas in order to try to figure out our money issues. Long story short, I couldn't buy a phone card with dollars or a credit card (they only take euros) and I couldn't make a toll-free call to the bank to find out what the problem was without a phone card. After spending two hours in the pouring rain trying different pay phones and ATM's we finally found an ATM that would accept another card I happened to have with me, even though we hadn't called them to preauthorize a foreign transaction. Whew, that was stressful. We went back to the place where the shuttle dropped us off (and where they told us to go) for a ride back to the ship, only to see every other shuttle but Celebrity there. After another 20 minutes in a downpour, we noticed a Celebrity bus driving on the other side of the parking lot and chased it to the far corner in order to grab a ride. The fun continued once onboard the ship,as we were told it would be another couple of hours before we would be allowed into our rooms, since the crew needed to sanitize the rooms thoroughly because of the norovirus. All the public spaces were packed, and we finally found seats in the casino where we slept on the blackjack tables until about 6:00 pm when we finally were let into the rooms. We used the next (rainy) day at sea to recover from our jet lag and that night we had quite a storm. The boat was really rocking and rolling, and we were mid-ship! The thunder and lightning went on for hours. The next day in Florence our guide told us that they had torrential flooding in Genoa and three people had died. Florence was overcast but we never really had rain again for the rest of the cruise. We had a brisk, cloudy day in Athens, but the rest of the ports had temperate, mostly sunny weather. The first four or five days of the cruise the crew had to serve us everything, to prevent any further outbreak of norovirus. It's a huge pain, for the crew and passengers alike. You can't even put your cream in your coffee or grab a napkin, they have to do EVERYTHING for you. It diminishes the eating experience, to be sure, but is a necessary evil. After five days they went back to self-service in the Ocean view and it must have worked. I didn't hear of anyone getting sick. Overall the cruise was wonderful. A very nice mix of port days and sea days. We did seven ports last year on a 10 (as opposed to a 12) day cruise and it wasn't nearly as relaxing. We booked all our shore excursions in small groups through Cruise critic roll call and it all went very well. We used Rome in Limo in Florence and Naples and they delivered a great experience in both places. We did Chania, Crete and Valetta, Malta on our own, definitely the way to go. We had been to Kusadasi (Ephesus) and Athens before so we did the Turkish bath in Kusadasi (awesome experience) and a countryside tour to Corinth, Mycenae and Napfplion with Jordan Daioglou who met us at the port in Pireaus. We really enjoyed that too. We ended up staying on board in Rome, since they told us there would be a public transport strike and we had planned to use the train (as we had been there before too). Turns out the strike was limited to the buses and only for a few hours. The Celebrity service, as always, was top-notch. Granted, the first five days were a bit trying and I did observe the occasional crew member snapping at a passenger who tried to help themselves to a spoon or a piece of food. As I said, it was stressful for all of us. We chose select dining and it worked beautifully. Some nights we ate alone, others we joined a group, but we never had to wait for more than a couple minutes to be seated. The waiters were all so friendly. Even though we were given different sections to sit in, our previous waiters would stop by and say hello. The food was definitely good, but not outstanding. The quality is fine, but most of it is predictable and bland. It is meant to cater to older, perhaps less sophisticated diners. Very few dishes had the intensity or variety of flavor that I expect from decent restaurants in the U.S. I would love to see more ethnic food and food that features the regional specialties of the areas we are visiting. One other thing I noticed is that the coffee on board has really improved. They use actual ground coffee now (I assume they used liquid coffee syrup before) and I could really tell the difference. We went to a couple of shows and two port lectures and they were fine, but nothing exceptional. In general, we found our fellow passengers to be friendly, interesting and well-travelled. There was a nice mix of nationalities and we always enjoyed our mealtime conversations. Oceanview was often crowded (everyone seemed to be on the same schedule) and tablesharing was usually a necessity, but as I said, it was fun to meet and talk with other passengers. We met several couples that we hit it off with and met up with them throughout the cruise for drinks or meals etc... We didn't spend much time on the balcony as it was a little chilly, but did enjoy using the hot tubs in the pool area almost every day. Others commented that they hadn't thought to bring a bathingsuit in November, but we were really glad we did. I noticed that the ship security didn't object when passengers brought on a bottle of local wine or limoncello on port days. I really appreciated that. They were much stricter on our last Med cruise on the Equinox, not sure why. Also, the port of Barcelona has a duty free shop after security, and I was able to bring on several bottles of cava with no problem. Disembarkation was smooth, as always, and we spent three days post-cruise in Barcelona. What a fabulous city. We had a wonderful time there and can't wait to visit more of Spain in the future. We stayed in a cute Bed and Breakfast (Casa de Marcelo) in the Borne district. It was a wonderful location and very interesting neighborhood with lots of fabulous restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
This was our second cruise on Celebrity but my husband's and my 10th and 12th cruises, respectively. We have always cruised with friends and/or family in groups ranging from 6 to 18; this time it was just us and another couple. ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Celebrity but my husband's and my 10th and 12th cruises, respectively. We have always cruised with friends and/or family in groups ranging from 6 to 18; this time it was just us and another couple. Were were pleased with our Concierge Class stateroom, which had a spacious bathroom with an excellent shower, and plenty of room for our toiletries. One minor quibble with the flat feather pillows, but that was rectified after requesting a foam pillow from our stateroom attendant--in fact, he brought me TWO pillows, which was perfect and allowed me to sleep comfortably for the rest of the cruise. We had an excellent experience at the early seating in the main dining room, with a really wonderful waiter (Pacheco), assistant waiter (Joseph), and sommelier (Milan). They were attentive, friendly, and welcoming every night. I noted that another passenger on this cruise said that the service for dinner was too slow for that reviewer's taste, and our waiter did ask us early in the cruise how we liked the pacing of our meal...was it too slow, or did we prefer a leisurely pace? We responded that we were fine with a leisurely dining experience and indeed, we were frequently among the last to leave the dining room (which was fine with us). We enjoyed all our meals and my husband was pleased as the food is an important part of the cruise experience for him! As mentioned in another review, the itinerary was reversed some months before our cruise, but we actually preferred that because the two sea days at the start gave us time to recover from our jet lag traveling from the West Coast to Barcelona and boarding the ship just hours after our arrival.We did all shore excursions through Celebrity and overall found them to be a good value. The walking tour of the city wall in Old Dubrovnik was very interesting if a bit strenuous (but we knew that ahead of time). Even in late October with 65 degree weather we were a bit tired at the end; I can't imagine what it would be like to do that in 90+ degree weather in the summer. We found Kotor to be...underwhelming. Perhaps because we had just seen the historic old town of Dubrovnik, this seemed to be much of the same but not as picturesque. The sail in through the Bay of Kotor was pretty, though. I wish we had had a longer stop in Venice...2 pm on Sunday through 1 pm Monday was not quite long enough to enjoy the city. We will definitely go back. We did a tour on Sunday but Monday took ourselves back via the People Mover from the dock, then the ferry/bus to the Rialto Bridge. A great way to see how the locals travel to and from work in Venice and offered great views of the Grand Canal. The wine tasting excursion from Livorno was a bit disappointing. We have done a LOT of wine tasting in California, and the experience was very different on this tour. There was no discussion of explanation of the wines we were tasting, and no tasting notes provided--just a list of the wines and their prices to purchase. The setting was lovely, though, and the scenery on the drive was colorful as the grapevines were turning gold and red.The tour of Pompeii was awesome--very interesting, quite amazing how much is preserved--although you should be aware that the artifacts (pots, jars, bones, etc.) are all in a museum in Naples and NOT at the actual architectural site in Pompeii. So try to visit the museum in Pompeii if you want to see that. We missed our all-day excursion to Rome as I caught a cold and was miserable; a 10-hour day (with 2-hour bus ride) would have finished me for the rest of the cruise. We were able to get a refund on our shore excursion tickets by visiting the ship's infirmary and seeing the doctor, who gave me a "note" saying I was unable to take the excursion that day. The shore excursion desk promptly refunded our $$ which was great. There was a charge to see the doctor which I have submitted to health insurance and hopefully will be refunded. We stayed one extra day in Barcelona which, unfortunately, was rainy all day. We stayed at the Gran Havana Hotel (through Celebrity) and had a spacious, contemporary room with a great view and a good location. We walked to Sagrada Familia in the rain and spent several hours touring it with the individual recorded self-guided tour (highly recommended). That evening we had paella at a family-owned restaurant recommended by the concierge and just a few blocks walking distance from the hotel. It was a great meal and very reasonably priced: Ca La Nuri (www.calanuri.es). We felt that all the crew was friendly, attentive, and helpful throughout the cruise. Overall, an excellent experience and one of our best cruises yet. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Celebrity Solstice We sailed on the Solstice Oct. 11 out of Barcelona. She is a lovely ship. Having sailed on the Millenium this past January, we were looking forward to the same high quality Celebrity is known for. In most ways, the ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice We sailed on the Solstice Oct. 11 out of Barcelona. She is a lovely ship. Having sailed on the Millenium this past January, we were looking forward to the same high quality Celebrity is known for. In most ways, the Solstice stood up to our consequently high expectations. Boarding was smooth and efficient in spite of the fact that half the passengers seemed to be boarding at this time. From the moment we handed over our luggage until we were on the ship, it only took about 20 minutes. We boarded around 12:30 and took the advice of another Cruise Critic member, and we proceeded to the 'Bistro on Five' for lunch. This way we avoided the craziness at the buffet upstairs, where everyone was trying to gather food from the various stations with their wheeled carryons, etc. (Note: when packing, put a smaller bag inside your carry-on bag so you can take your breakables like cameras on board in it and check your carry-on with your regular bag at the embarkation point.) The Bistro On Five is great and only $5 per person. This includes a salad, sandwich or crepe, and dessert. Our rooms were available at 1:30 so we were able to finish lunch and go immediately to our stateroom. We had a balcony stateroom and it was great. Narrow, of course, but very spacious and lots of places to stow stuff. The bathroom was terrific; large and a great shower. We didn't even use all the drawers in the bathroom. The only thing that was strange was the closet; it runs parallel to the bed and it's a tight fit if two of you are trying to get clothes out of there at once. However it allows more space for the bathroom, I believe, so it's worth the inconvenience. We brought a bunch of thin wire hangers in our suitcase, and there was plenty of room for our clothes for a 12-night cruise. The bed was plenty large and my husband and I both found it really comfortable. It was quiet except when the doors to the staterooms on either side of us slammed shut, and you could hear someone below when they coughed really loudly, but luckily that didn't happen too much! On deck 8 the staterooms are all on one side of the hallway, so you don't have to deal with other passengers across the hall from you. There are two big shelves over the bed, but it's hard to reach the parts of them furthest from the edge of the bed without standing on the bed (I am 5'5" tall). The covers for these compartments are hinged from the top so you have to hold it up with one hand and fish out your clothing item with the other. The balcony was more spacious than I thought it would be and you can recline the chairs to make them into 'chaise lounges'. We really enjoyed several sunsets as we sailed out of port, from our balcony. (We were on the port side, deck 8). We ate breakfast in the main dining room twice. Both times we were led to a table with several people already there. The service was extremely slow. The second time, the others at our table ordered 'courses' of fruit etc. and then the main meal, so even though we just ordered the eggs & sausage, we had to wait and wait until others at the table were served the 'preliminaries'. On days in port, the Ocean Cafe upstairs is very crowded for breakfast and lunch. Fortunately everyone was very social and friendly on this cruise (you must be to join 2800 others on your vacation!) and no one minded sharing their breakfast and lunch tables. We had a wonderful conversation with a couple from Columbia one morning. The number of items available at breakfast is truly staggering. I am glad we were on a 12-night cruise because it takes at least 7 days/nights to figure out all the offerings in the Ocean Cafe. The coffee stations are very congested, and they definitely need a few more of them. I thought the various offerings of things to do on board were good and varied. We never got time to do the 'ipad' tour of the art. You get an ipad at the desk and use it to take a tour of all the art works on the ship. Speaker Linda Seidel was very good. She lectured about Caravaggio and Gaudi/Picasso on two separate lectures. Glenn Olsen, a professor, also lectured. His style is very 'old school' with old art slides and a slow delivery of information. If you attend his lectures sit in front. After a few minutes a lot of people rudely left, causing others to have to stand up so they could pass down the aisle. I did a Reidel glass activity ($15) that was really fun. The idea is, you taste wines in the glasses designed to complement the type of wine, then taste it out of a 'regular' wine glass. There really was a difference. I also did the tour of the kitchen and that was fun too. The other entertainment was o.k. The magician was good; Claire Maiden was a piano player/country western-style singer from England (!) with a beautiful voice. The violinist was probably good too, but the sound system was SO LOUD I had to keep my fingers in my ears the entire performance. I loved the next-to-last night 'Circ de'Soliel' style performance and thought it was excellent. The internet on Solstice is faster than on the Millenium. However the Solstice uses Apple laptops which, if you are a P.C. user, causes some challenges because the format is somewhat different. It's very expensive. Everyone should have one martini at the martini bar. Go when Sheldon and Petar are there. They put on quite a show for us; if four people order martinis they will do a fancy juggling/pouring act that was as fun and entertaining as anything we saw on the main stage in the theater onboard. The itinerary was great. We loved all the ports of call except Athens. When we were in Athens, the workers were on strike so we couldn't visit the Acropolis or the National Museum. (Also it was raining pretty hard). However, we did walk all the way around the bottom of the Acropolis, and spent two hours fascinated by the new Acropolis museum. I highly recommend it. We did a couple ship tours, did Rome, Athens, and Santorini on our own, and Turkey with an independent tour company. They are pretty efficient getting everyone off the ship and onto their tour busses, but it is a much larger crowd to manage than aboard the Millenium. If you take a ship shore excursion, get to the theater a few minutes early so you can get on a bus sooner. We were amazed at how crowded the Mediterranean is in October. In Santorini to take the funicular back to the tender we had to wait in line 45 minutes. Others waited over an hour. Overall it is a good cruise product but we didn't feel it was quite as great as the Millenium. I think the cabin attendants have too many cabins to clean. On other cruise ships, the room would be clean by the time you got back from breakfast. Sometimes ours wasn't cleaned until early afternoon. Also on the Millenium the cabin attendants were often in the hallways and would stop and talk to you if they saw you coming down the hall. The specialty restaurant aboard the Millenium, the Olympic Restaurant, was fabulous. We ate in the Tuscan Grill aboard the Solstice, and it was good, but not $80-for-two better than the regular menu.The Tuscan Grill lacks the atmosphere and ambiance of the Olympic aboard the Millenium, and I felt the service in the Tuscan Grill was rushed. If I had it to do over I'd eat all dinners in the main dining room but eat several times at Bistro on Five for lunch. The food in the main dining rooms was terrific. My husband had one piece of very dry fish, and over 400 people complained about the lobster on the last night, (I bet they change vendors or the way they cook it in the future) but other than that, everything tasted terrific. The dining room service was fast if you were at a table for two, and much slower at a large table, but still very good. The Solstice is the smoothest-sailing and quietest ship I have ever been on, though. You had to look outside to see that you were moving. We had one night with some bouncy waves (I don't get seasick so I thought it was fun). Overall I think Celebrity has an excellent product and it is a good value. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We arrived in Barcelona a day before we boarded the Solstice, staying at the Silken Havana Hotel just a few blocks from Las Ramblas. The town is beautiful, clean & vibrant. We took the bus tour which was good but a bit pricey. It ... Read More
We arrived in Barcelona a day before we boarded the Solstice, staying at the Silken Havana Hotel just a few blocks from Las Ramblas. The town is beautiful, clean & vibrant. We took the bus tour which was good but a bit pricey. It gave us a view of most of the top sites in town including Gaudi's Sagradi Familia, a must see. The hotel, recommended by Celebrity was well appointed & clean but the room very, very tiny. We stayed at the Renassiance near the airport our last day & could not have been happier. The room was large, clean & it had all the bells & whistles. Their restuarants were great & a bit pricey, but worth it. I's recommend it to all. Our ship was clean, organized and the staff helpful. Ports of call were exciting & diverse but excursions less than we expected. Croatia & Montenegro were surprisingly beautiful, quaint & clean & locals were warm & charming. The highlight of the ship was the delicious meals, especially the dinners. Our wait staff were excellent & the menu selections were varied & delicious. Our cabin was large enough, the balcony large & the shower sooo good. The entertainment was good, with the variety shows our favorite. Our Cruise Director, Lisa, was cordial & maybe the best entertainer on board. She interacted with everyone on the ship. The Captain was very professional & pleasantly invisible. His daily updates were precise & brief & all ended with 'OUT'. Our cabin attendants were efficient & cordial. All staff personnel were helpful & courteous. Our only negative was our concerige, Raphael, who was non-existent for most of the cruise & totally useless when we asked for assistence once & was rudely told he could not do anything for us. Being in Concerige Class, we foolishly thought he would be somewhat helpful, but were we wrong. We did not allow this one incident to spoil our cruise & just ignored him after that. There was a health issue about 2/3 of the way through that sent the entire staff into clean-down mode, preventing anyone in the 14th deck food area to serve themselves. Not a big problem except the serving staff was not adequately staffed to handle this crisis efficiently. But, just a small bump in the seas. We ate at 2 spectacular restaurants. In Venice Tratorria Modonna off the Rialto Bridge, & in Florence, Tratorria Bortolo, just minutes from Ponte Vecchio. Both were true Italian classics off the beaten track & both inexpensive. They were recommended to us by a native who lives & works in the USA & brings his clients to these places always. Our tour guides were good & experienced. We used Celebrity for all excursion except in Rome where we used Port Promotions, a hugh mistake. They did a poor job & did not follow the itenery they had published & we intend to lodge a complaint with them. Another dissapointment was a world renowned (?) bar in Venice, Harry's Bar, famous for their Bellinis. It was small, crowded, & the wait staff rude, discouteous & loud. The drinks were good but very expensive. We'll never return there & I suggest no one else go there in support of appropriate behavior. They refused to allow a woman who had ordered a drink at the bar & was in obvious back pain, to sit on a chair at a table for four with only two people sitting there after asking & receiving permission to sit there from those at the table. The woman, after being berated loudly by one of the waiters,quietly placed her unfinished drink on the bar & left. Shame on you, world reowned (?) Harry's Bar! This is our second cruise on Celebrity & both have been great. They certainly know how to provide the ingredients for a wonderful vacation & we will use them again. They handled the 'bumps' in the sea with professionlism & efficency. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
CELEBRITY SOLSTICE SEPT 29 2011 BARCELONA TO VENICE WE LOVED THE ADVENTURE!! Captain Yannis Berdos, Master of the Vessel I flew in to Barcelona from Florida. The departure from the airport to the ship was not complicated at ... Read More
CELEBRITY SOLSTICE SEPT 29 2011 BARCELONA TO VENICE WE LOVED THE ADVENTURE!! Captain Yannis Berdos, Master of the Vessel I flew in to Barcelona from Florida. The departure from the airport to the ship was not complicated at all. . If you paid Celebrity to collect your luggage, they will wait until they fill a bus, and then transport you to the ship. If you are an independent traveler, You get your luggage, and hail a cab. I prefer not to wait. You can also team up with other shipmates you may meet in the terminal building and split the price of a van or cab. The cabs are lined up out front; ready to whisk you away to either downtown or straight to the ship, and the trip takes approximately 20 minutes. I came the day before to relax from the international trip, staying at the Hilton del Mar Diagnonal, close to the water, and to be more accustomed to the time zone of our ship. It was well worth the extra day, as I was not exhausted, fully rested, and ready to start a well anticipated adventure of a lifetime. At 11:15, I checked in, receiving my Sea Pass card, and at 11:45, I had been through Duty Free for wine and pictures (predeparture). I am Elite on Celebrity, which means there are plenty of add on activities complimentary from Celebrity that will keep even the easily bored occupied! But the true BONUS was that we booked through Costco Travel, and were on a wine cruise as well, so we had plenty of wine tastings, wine tours ashore, and culinary experiences as part of our package. Shortly after setting sail, we had a private wine tasting from Chateau St. Michelle, private delicious wines, and then off to a Senior Officers party for the suites. We bought tickets early for the shore excursions to Venice, and then went immediately to a Cruise Critic's party in Michael's club, where about 70 of us gathered. We met Princess, the events coordinator and also Giorgio De Pietro, who was very funny. He was the Food and Beverage Manager aboard from Napoli, Italy. We organized a room crawl for later on that week with the cruise critic group, after our initial Meet and Greet in Michaels Club, arranged by the ship. Our trip went from Barcelona, to Nice, Florence/Pisa Rome, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice, Kotor, and back to Barcelona. Old town Dubrovnik was beautiful and we had a guided walk through Old Town, including a walk from Ploce Gate to the Market Place. You can walk the city wall up above, if you are feeling adventurous. Nice: We took the train to Nice, which is easy from the ship and takes about 10 minutes on the train. We bought beautiful flowers at the flower market, only open until noon, so you need to hurry a little in the morning. The market is down by the water, and about a 10 minute walk through town to the water's edge. Livorno: Went wine tasting at Varramista Winery (owners of Fiat). Then on to a beautiful dinner for formal night hosted by the master of the vessel, Captain Berdos. He is lots of fun, and entertained all the guests. It is so nice to have a personable captain who really takes such an interest in all the passengers and makes us feel so comfortable. He speaks very good English, and is a Greek captain. The Solarium Pool: A beautiful swimming pool which is indoors, and heated, yet offers peeks of sunlight thru the glass ceiling and rafters. They have Wii bowling on board which was really fun to play, and line dancing in the afternoon. Naples Italy: A must to get off the ship, and I took the tour to Pompeii, one of the most remarkable experiences of my life, and to see the ancient city, just imagining how life must have been before the volcano erupted at Mount Vesuvius. On board the ship, the Oceanview Cafe has a fabulous Mediterrean stir fry. Captains Club was at the sky Observation Lounge and Dinner in the specialty restaurant of Morano's Murano's Restaurant Maitre d' Hotel: Angei Dimitrov. Both very friendly and attentive to the needs of all the guests. Their goat cheese soufflé is not to be missed, nor the Hazelnut Rack of lamb, scallops wellington, Murano lobster and chocolate soufflé. Murano's menu is incredible. The chef de rang will also do tableside cooking and includes filleting the Dover Sole, or making a fabulous cognac flambéed warm lobster tail dish made with a fabulous Dijon-cream. At sea day: Had our wine tasting at Tuscan Grill paired with cheese and prosciutto. We participated in a cruise critic room crawl in where we visited other cruise critics rooms, and saw inside rooms, outside rooms, family veranda suites, sky suites, concierge, and handicapped rooms. I found this to be one of the most information adventures with cruise critic, because for future cruises, we knew exactly what type of room we really wanted to book. Croatia: A wonderful country to explore. We took the bus and went up into the mountains of Croatia to go wine tasting, and have first hand tastes of homemade cheeses and prosciutto, followed by incredible homemade wines. The wines of Croatia are excellent! Our maitre'd is Czaka, and Asst is Emil. The sommelier was named Serjan in the Tuscan grill that is very knowledgeable and friendly. Dubrovnik: A world Heritage site preserved by Unisco. After the 1991 war which Serbia bombed the ancient town, much restoration had to occur. We found the city fascinating, and were able to do some nice shopping as well as getting involved in the history of the town. Venice, Italy: We took a ferry shuttle at 2:00 pm, shortly after docking. Venice was very hot (85F). You could buy Murano glass, jewelry made from the same, have fabulous gelatos, shop to your heart's content, or simple ride the gondola. We found the town to be less crowded in the evening, as many shipmates return in the late afternoon. I believe really the time to see Venice is in the evening, without the crowds of people. Next time I will know more. The ship had hosted a fabulous party on the heliport, featuring music of Andréa Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. It was awesome. The food in Blu restaurant if you are in Aqua class or a suite is simply the best. I highly recommend booking this class on the solstice ships for the most rewarding experience while cruising. Kotor, Montenegro: Took a tour by bus over large mountains to a beautiful home with homemade wines and food. An incredible experience. Many homes were damaged or abandoned from recent earthquakes, and there was a lot of remodeling and building taking place. Since we were tendered at port, it was nice to take the small boats back to the ship. We saw a large clipper ship in a small cove while we were there. Captains Club was great as usual. Our internet café was run by officer randy Palamis. I was impressed with his complete and total interest in each and every passenger. Tuscan Grille: Maitre de' Hotel: Marius Borcila. On the menu is slow braised ground beef veal, Kobe meatballs, pan friend veal cutlet, Colorado lamb chops, veal chops, fietto Mignon, rib eye, salmon and other dishes. Yummy! Each of the ports was special, but it was really the crew that made our trip so memorable. We were really impressed with the service on board, from guest relations to the Ocean View Cafe, to the spa. A special friendly crew. My thanks for all their hard work, as it will last in my memories for years to come. By Tikigal: Check out my slide show of the Solstice coming up soon of Crew and Passengers for Sept 2011. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This was our first Meditereanean cruise and we chose Celebrity and the Solstice. We got a real good deal for Aqua Class (AQ) so we decided to go for it mostly because of what we read about Blu, the Aqua Class only dining room. We were not ... Read More
This was our first Meditereanean cruise and we chose Celebrity and the Solstice. We got a real good deal for Aqua Class (AQ) so we decided to go for it mostly because of what we read about Blu, the Aqua Class only dining room. We were not disappointed. The food quality, variety, service and ambiance was better than expected. The protions, while not large, there is plenty since it seems you get 3 or 4 courses for each meal. Our dinners took 1.5 to 2 hours each night because we enjoyed the food and conversation with the people other guests around us or with other cruisers we met on board. We never ate anywhere else. Why spend the extra dollars, the food and service could not have been better. The maitre d and waiters got to know us and took very good care of us. We were in room 1584 and it was very nice. The shower in AQ is good size and the upgraded shower head while might not seem like much makes taking a shower on a ship a good experience. The bathroom itself is a good size. In AQ you get finger food each night to enjoy. We brought our own wine to enjoy with this extra before dinner. Our cabin steward was very accomodating and brought us all the water we needed before touring at each port. Before the cruise we noticed some comments about AQ cabins being able to hear noise from above. If there was any noise it was not disturbing to us. The entertainmnet on the ship is what you make of it. The glass blowing show was interesting, we won at BINGO, watched a couple shows, gambled, played trivia, yard games, used the fitness center, took a class and met with people we met on the ship. A couple of our haunts on the ship were the espresso cafe and martini bar. Espresso was good and so were the free goodies with it. The martini bar provided some nice entertainment. Flair bar tenders poured us a flight of 12 martinis. Quit the show and the martinis were good. Each port we visited we did our own tour. We took a train to Rome and toured the colisieum with a tour we booked online before our cruise, rode the subway to Athens, booked our own tour ahead of time in Kusadasi. We hired our own guide, own car and had a fantastic private tour of the ruins that lasted nearly 4 hours for cheap. We booked our own ferry to Capri, walked all over Santorini and took a taxi to the beach in Mykanos. We took the red on off bus in Malta. We flew into Barcelona a couple days ahead of time and stayed one day after the cruise. A fantastic city, the best of the cruise. We took a train and subway from the airport...watch your wallets. The port area, gothic area, and Gaudi buildings are a must. A fantastic vacation. I would recommend it to anyone. We booked a Carribean crise on Celebrity/Eclipse/Aqua Class for next year. Can't wait. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Just arrived back from an amazing Holy Land cruise aboard the Silhouette Solstice, the ship itself is lovely and the way it is set out doesn't make it feel as big as it is, feels like still room to move about in public areas. The ... Read More
Just arrived back from an amazing Holy Land cruise aboard the Silhouette Solstice, the ship itself is lovely and the way it is set out doesn't make it feel as big as it is, feels like still room to move about in public areas. The staff in all grades are fantastic, the food in the main dining room excellent, didn't feel a need to go in speciality restaurants, ant thought the extra cost is a little bit steep anyway. The drinks package is still way over priced - we were told last year on Eclipse that it was being reviewed .. well yes it has been - it's gone up again. Wine at ridiculous prices.We went on some amazing trips, and due to the nature of places visited felt the need to book through the ship ... some were worth the expense, some were clearly not, felt ripped off on a couple. If we were to visit the area again would book independently, even with a guide apparently worked out cheaper.The entertainment was excellent, the Ships own company of singers and dancers were one of the best we have seen.Why are cruise ship photo's so expensive and why do they not take heed of passengers comments, bring down the price - sell more. How many are thrown away - what waste.Hope that Celebrity keep standards up to 5*as there are enough casual ships on the high sea's now,were told there was 3 formal nights only got 2, one other being described as Cocktail...what a strange one that was, in the dining room we were sat in evening dress, sat next to someone in a polo shirt and even on formal nights men not in a tux which is fine but let in to dine with open shirts on and one woman seen in jeans .... Come on Celebrity this is not what we expect. Ashdod not on list. Typical busy port in fact was told one of the busiest in the world. Lots of cars stored there as it's cheaper to ship them from there. Even though very busy it was clean and felt safe. This was our port for two night for our visit to Jaffa, Tel- a -Viv, Jerusalem and Bethlehem Overall our 12 days spent on this wonderful ship will be one to remember. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We just got back from our Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice and we loved the ship and the staff. My wife and i have been on about 15 plus cruise and this was the nicest ship out of all of them. Loved the Martini bar and all the great ... Read More
We just got back from our Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice and we loved the ship and the staff. My wife and i have been on about 15 plus cruise and this was the nicest ship out of all of them. Loved the Martini bar and all the great restaurants. We ate at two of the new ones. There is a cost but the food was great. We did meet Captain Gerry and i had a nice chat with Staff Capt Tasos Kafetzis. He was very nice and was more than willing to answer my questions about the ship. He is very proud and loved to talk about her. We did have a couple issues on the boat and not really issues but annoyances, the bar staff was supper slow. Supper slow. almost like a work slow down or something. The other issues was our room attendant never picked up dirty glasses. he left there almost the the whole week. We finally had to ask him to take them. He was surprised when i asked, So maybe we missed something. Overall we loved this ship and will go again some day. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We had an overnight stay in the Hotel Regina situated in the heart of Barcelona just to the left of Las Ramblas. Just perfect and great value. Embarkation was a breeze and we were soon greeted by our daughter who has been working on ... Read More
We had an overnight stay in the Hotel Regina situated in the heart of Barcelona just to the left of Las Ramblas. Just perfect and great value. Embarkation was a breeze and we were soon greeted by our daughter who has been working on board for some 4 months. It was great to see her again. She gave us a whistle stop tour of the ship before we stopped for lunch on the outside area of the Ocean view cafe. A glass of wine was immediately ordered as I was on a mission to max' out the premium alcohol package I had preordered a week earlier. This set the tone of the whole cruise! We had visited all the ports before except Villefrance so it was a very pleasant surprise. It was great to return to Kotor again after a 40 year gap. I was last there as a 12 year old with my parents so it was nice to relive my time there. However I went a step further whilst there! Overlooking the pretty town was a fortress with a small church half way up. I only got as far as this church 40 years ago so I was determined to climb further. In all 1355 steps were taken in the mid day sun (temp' 88F). The view from the top was spectacular and pictures of the ship lying below look anasing. Another highlight was in Dubrovnik where we kayaked 7 kms around an island past a nudist beach before returning to the beautiful walled town. We had sailed on Constellation 8 months earlier and liked the "solsticised" interior but we were unprepared for what a proper Solstice ship looked like. It is probably the best looking both inside and out of any cruise ship we've been on. The attention to detail and the flow of the interior features and public areas was incredible. My favourite haunts were the Molecular bar where Brian (the bartender) prepared for me all the coctails on his list. I also spent a lot of daytime in either the Sunset bar or the Mast bar enjoying a Peroni or three!! The bartenders soon know you have the drinks package and never let your bottle become empty before a refill is opened. The main pool area was very busy in the daytime so we found a nice quiet spot on the Solstice deck just above the glass covered pool. This became our daily spot and was just perfect for the outside grill/bar. I was a little disappointed though with the burgers they served. They weren't cooked to order like those on Princess so were not fresh and certainly not hot enough for me. The Ocean view cafe had a great atmosphere and seats were never too difficult to find. Food was OK but never hot enough for me unless you have pasta which they dip into hot water just before serving individual portions. Food in the MDR was very good (particularly the steaks) but the desserts were a little disappointing (no soufflettes either). Wine was copious however followed by a Zambia. We were on Select dining which was ideal as our daughter had duties to attend so we timed our dining around her. It was great to eat as a family again. We even had diner with her boyfriend in Silk Harvest and what a feast we had there. We left it to our daughter to select the dishes and she didn't let us down. We also tried the Tuscan Grill and the view from the back watching Civitavecchia disappear into the distance was excellent. Well worth the supplement. We saw most of the shows and enjoyed them all, particularly the finale show. Seeing captain Gerry perform was a surprise but he was great. One of the best captains I've had. Always visible around the ship and a great sport for joining in the water volleyball competition which was hilarious. If I had to say one bad thing about the cruise it was the lack of ballroom/Latin dancing. The floor at the bottom of the main staircase was just too small. There were a few opportunities in the Sky lounge to dance but the floor soon got consumed by what appeared to be mostly Spanish kids once they had surfaced from the MDR sometime after 11 pm. That aside it was a great cruise for me and my wife although our 20 year old son could have done with more company of his age. The night club didn't have the same energy compared with Princess. Celebrity just doesn't seem to attract the numbers in his age group like Princess do. Needless to say the staff were all excellent particularly the Activities team, with special mention to Kirsten, Jason and Valentina. Any one unsure about purchasing the drinks package should just give it a go. I can assure you, you wont be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Having sailed on the Solstice for a 7 day getaway cruise back in January 2011, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit the same ship later in the year on a different route and compare the voyage. I could sum it up by saying 7 nights ... Read More
Having sailed on the Solstice for a 7 day getaway cruise back in January 2011, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit the same ship later in the year on a different route and compare the voyage. I could sum it up by saying 7 nights in the Caribbean was superb, 12 nights in Europe was spectacular. We started out at an excellent hotel in Barcelona I read about on cruise critic. The Hotel Jazz was centrally located; medium in the price scheme, and attention to detail was excellent. Smallish in size (8 floors), but with a sharp rooftop pool, super helpful staff, and because of its central location, easily could navigate Barcelona. Embarkation was one of the easiest I've been through. I had forgotten my luggage tags, guys outside the terminal gladly took care of that in an instant and a smile. Lines moved quickly outside, with less than 10 minutes before was inside the terminal, and less than 45 minutes before I was checked in and boarding the ship. The logistics of moving 2800 passengers and their luggage in a relatively short period always amazes me. One thing I really admire is Celebrity doesn't shortchange its staff for embarkation. Probably 8-10 people outside the terminal ready to take your bags. Another 30-40 inside the terminal available to check you in scan your credit card details/passport and get you your sea pass to board the Solstice. Having been a fan of the Millennium class, and especially the Constellation, still surprised how much I enjoy the Solstice class. It's about a third bigger passenger wise, but still has a way of feeling intimate. You still get the feeling of being a guest rather than a passenger, just by the extra courtesies the staff always provides. Two suggestions I strongly recommend is trying some of the specialty restaurants onboard. My two favorite are Murano and Tuscan Grill. Both excel but for different reasons. Tuscan Grill resonates with the sounds and smells of Italy. We had a group of about 10 dining together and the staff was more than accommodating to let us savor each other dishes as well as allowing us to get a few extra dishes so all could try. In Murano, we reserved the wine room, for the 7 of us, and so it was our own private dining room inside the Murano restaurant itself. Service was terrific although I think our waiter must have been new, as he tried his best to describe the way things were cooked kind of generically rather than knowing the specifics on how they were prepared. Luckily the Maitre D kind of helped in this regard, and kept it up to the quality of a Michelin type service. The main dining room was excellent, can't think of a bad meal I had there. The buffet was good any time of day breakfast, lunch or just a snack (they make the greatest ice cream in the world on Celebrity). I never eat ice cream at home but ate it every day of the cruise. One thing I absolutely adore is the warmth you get from the staff after you travel a few cruises with Celebrity. Last time I had been on Solstice, we had the same Hotel Director onboard as this voyage, and saw her the first day and she greeted me warmly remembering all my details. The second day of the cruise I found a 12 pack of bottled Pepsi in my cabin compliments of the Hotel Director, as she had remembered that I had mentioned last cruise that I didn't drink alcohol, and preferred Pepsi and the ship only carried Coke. When I saw her the next day I thanked her for the gesture (and the Pepsi), and she said she just felt bad she couldn't of had it onboard the first day instead of the second, but they had trouble finding it in Barcelona. Now how's that for attention to detail? Over the past few years I think they have done a very good job with the excursions in regard to quality/value. I think I did 6 excursions off the ship and only found one (Florence/Pisa) to be choppy and kind of lacking structure or a theme. Florence was essentially wasted time where you really didn't have time to do more than walk by things rather than visit them, while the Pisa portion was quite a nice afternoon. Rooms on the Solstice are a nice step up from most lines. A good amount of storage, bathrooms like an upscale hotel. I picked a cabin immediately next to the bridge. It was cool to be able to see the bridge from my balcony, but noise can be a problem at that location during the day as you hear quite a bit of door slamming. At night though it was peaceful, so no complaints. Downside to being next to the bridge is you are not near an elevator, but you take the good with the minor things like that. Two small complaints I had that seemed to be a common theme with other passengers in the room were the television and the telephone. The telephone is backlit so even when its not in use it has a tendency to be rather bright (like a bright night light), that can't be turned off. My remedy was to lay my sea pass card across the face of the illuminated panel to dim it down to negligible. The other small complaint was the remotes for the televisions aren't very food. Last cruise had the same problem and found it rather common complaint at our dinner table, that no ones seemed to work really well. Maybe batteries need to be changed out more? Its funny I had a suite last voyage on Solstice and that remote was also taped up and not working real well. Funny thing is those two minor annoyances were the only complaints I could think of, so gives you an idea on how great the ship and staff really are. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2011
Celebrity Solstice Ship: The ship is excellent in every conceivable way, well laid out with modern equipment fitted to a high standard. The rooms are particularly pleasing with plenty of room to manoeuvre and large very ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Ship: The ship is excellent in every conceivable way, well laid out with modern equipment fitted to a high standard. The rooms are particularly pleasing with plenty of room to manoeuvre and large very comfortable queen size beds. The kids enjoyed a good sized bunk bed, there is a turn down service each night. The balconies are a good size and a great place to watch the world go by. There is a mini bar which is replenished each day, the cost of drinks being typical of that of a hotel mini bar Food: The two main restaurants included in the standard package are the Ocean View Cafe (where breakfast is also served) which is a self service buffet dining option and the Grand Eperny which is a full service restaurant with a good and varied menu and full waiter service - the food in both of these restaurants was of a very high standard. Lunch is usually also at the Ocean View (this restaurant operates 24hrs) however there is also the Mast Cafe which serves burgers, hot dogs, taco's and the like. There are a number of speciality dining options, all of which have a modest cover charge of $20 - $35 per person all of which are worth the additional expense with the possible exception of the Silk restaurant (Asian Themed), we enjoy Asian food for its aromatic and spicy taste however our experience at this particular restaurant was that the food was bland in the extreme, it was also the one with the poorest service. We ate at the Italian themed restaurant (Tuscan Grille) a couple of times and were very impressed with both food and service - our only complaint being the portions were too big! (we heard this from other guests too) Murano is the "French" themed restaurant and really excels in both quality of food and service, the intimate atmosphere in this restaurant also adds to is appeal. - Murano is very popular and needs booked in advance Staff: The staff were excellent, friendly, attentive and professional. The exception to this was the port excursions desk who were surly, rude and lacked basic knowledge to carry out their role. Overall I could not however fault staff in bars, restaurants or chamber staff Entertainment: There were numerous activities and events each day all of which were detailed in a daily sheet delivered to your room, these included musicians, big bands, magicians, dancers etc - something for everyone including young people and teens. Other facilities: In addition to the Solstice theatre where most of the "shows" would take place, there was celebrity central, a cinema, spa, games area, library, casino, glass making demonstrations, a full lawn area for grass bowls and plenty of shops and cafe / ice cream bars Drinks: There are numerous bars on board and something to suit everyone, prices for drinks are generally reasonable and in line with what you would find in a typical hotel ($5 for a beer $6 for a glass of wine - bottles of wine started at $25 but typically averaged $35 - specialist wines, ports and whisky's were available but prices for these varied enormously) There are various drinks packages available which may or may not be effective. We decided not to take a package and just did a pay-as-you-go. If you were staying on the boat a lot and using the bars during the day, its likely that a package would work for you - typically a "standard" package that would cover beer, wine by the glass and standard spirits (Gin / Vodka etc) would be covered by the $44 per day per person package - this is still of course over $1,000 for 2 people on a 12 day cruise. You could also buy a "premium" package for $54 which covered more expensive drinks (some single malts and cocktails) Shore excursions: All the excursions were in our view seriously overpriced, there were however plenty to choose from and whilst we felt them expensive they were professionally run and of a high standard. Value for money: We reckoned that what you got for your initial booking was good value, it was first class service and not over priced. We did feel however that once on the ship you could easily run up a substantial bill with drinks, ice creams, shuttle busses and very expensive shore trips. We initially paid around £4,000 UK Sterling (say $6000 USD) for a family of four however we paid almost the same again at the end of the trip! Tips and hints: • Bring adaptors for both European and American sockets and you can charge all your gadgets simultaneously. • Book excursions well in advance as these fill up quickly • Book the open dining option which allows you to dine at any time rather than be restricted to a first or second sitting • Use the speciality restaurants, there is a cover charge but its not significant in terms of the increased standard of service and food - particularly Murano where we thought both food and service were unsurpassable • Do the maths in advance to judge whether the drinks packages are likely to work for you (it's a "volume" thing) • If you plan to use any of the speciality restaurants make sure you book a couple of days in advance • Avoid the WiFi - it is desperately slow, hangs a lot and is outrageously expensive. I can understand the complexity of providing a wifi service on a boat at sea however they should either employ better technology to improve the service to justify the cost or drop the charge all together - it really is frustrating. • Soft drinks, water and tea / coffee are available free from the Ocean view restaurant, use this rather than run up a bill for soft drinks from the pool bars etc Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Solstice well its first class from the moment you join to you depart. Cabin 9223 was perfectly proportioned for our need from the LCD to shower room which has more storage places than you can use. The Balcony is more that ... Read More
Solstice well its first class from the moment you join to you depart. Cabin 9223 was perfectly proportioned for our need from the LCD to shower room which has more storage places than you can use. The Balcony is more that adequate for sitting having a drink before dining or sunbathing .As for our stateroom attendant Marcellino he was Simply the best nothing was to much to trouble for him. The bars are numerous from the laid back ensemble lounge to the very popular Martini bar.[watch out for the lemon drop Martinis they are lethal] Entertainment something for every taste as for the entertainment director he was an act in himself. Dinning from the Ocean view Cafe which had every for all dietary needs.  The MDR was just class its self nothing was to much for the waiting staff. The mast bar was very popular during the day for snacks etc.  Also watch out for the specials on sea days wine /champagne reduced as well as beer and the sail away cocktails just divine. If you have any problems speak to Guest relations right away don't leave it to last day or late on , deal within when it happens because Celebrity will resolve it on ship. Also may I add that as our first cruise the social side of cruising alone was worth the trip and made many friends from around the world. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This is my first review, so please be gentle. However, before my cruise I was reading the reviews, hungry for info, so felt it my duty. Our hotel kicking- out time was 12 noon, so we asked them to call us a taxi to ... Read More
This is my first review, so please be gentle. However, before my cruise I was reading the reviews, hungry for info, so felt it my duty. Our hotel kicking- out time was 12 noon, so we asked them to call us a taxi to the port, knowing it was early for embarkation, but not wanting to wander the streets with luggage. On arrival, our luggage was taken and we were shown where to check in. I couldn't believe how quickly we were checked in, there was no line at all for our deck. There was a slight delay at security but we were on board with champagne in hand by 12.40pm. Well done Celebrity. First impressions, WOW, what a gorgeous ship, we weren't disappointed. Loved the glass elevators and never had long to wait for one, even on shore days. Of all the ships we've been on this was definately the nicest and easiest to find your way around. We went to the Oceanview Cafe on deck 14 aft for lunch. I have to say that I usually steer clear of buffet type restaurants, I like to have my food served to me. However, the buffet here is really very good. Well set out with clear signage. Whenever we used the cafe, we didn't encounter long lines at all and always managed to find a clean table. There is waiter service for drinks. Tea and coffee and juice are served at your table at breakfast. The variety and quality of food was very good. Our stateroom was ready at 2pm and again, we were happy with it. We found the bed comfortable and liked the sliding door which meant we could leave it open a little at night for fresh air and to listen to the sea. The storage was ample. There was a vanity unit with 2 American style sockets and 1 European style. After muster (which was tedious) we went to meet with other cruise critic members for the sail away party. We had late dining in the MDR and had requested a table for 2, because, at the end of a long day, we enjoy, just to unwind and have a quiet meal together without having to make polite conversation with people we don't know very well. We were very disappointed overall with the main dining room. The tables were jammed far too close together so that you couldn't help being drawn in to conversations without being rude. We really liked our table neighbours, but, it wasn't what we wanted. I have to say though, that our waiters were very attentive, but we found the food to be often too cool to eat (with the exception of the onion soup which was scalding hot) and the whole thing just wasn't really to our taste. Out of the 12 nights we dined elsewhere 5 times. Murano's is fantastic, not to be missed. We had 2 nights there together, then a further night with CC friends. All brilliant and well worth the supplement. Wouldn't it be nice if the MDR was like Murano's? Tuscan Grill had a lovely friendly ambience, we were given a window table at the rear of the ship and it was lovely. The food however, though nice, isn't a patch on authentic Italian, it just lacks that garlic, basil fresh herbs thing that Italian food has. Nontheless, we liked the restaurant and the service was very attentive. Breakfasts. Well, what we enjoy most of all on a cruise is to enjoy a leisurely breakfast on our balcony, while wearing our bath robes and watching the world go by. We have to say that we were disappointed with the service and the quality of the room service breakfasts for our class of stateroom. I understand that if you pay more for a better "class" you have a bigger choice. The cooked food was terrible and barely warm. Cold croissants! We stopped asking for cooked food and just asked for cereal and danish. The danish were good. However, then they forgot to put water in the tea pot, or they forgot the cups. I say that if you can't do it well, don't offer to do it at all. They could learn from HAL, where even at a lowly level of stateroom, the balcony breakfasts were first class. We started to go to the buffet restaurant and if you got there early it was fine. One morning we went to The Bistro on 5. The service was very good, nice hot tea and coffee and we liked the fresh fruit, however, we found the scrambled egg, bacon and mushroom crepe very dry. Entertainment. This is where people's priorities come into play, because we don't bother much with entertainment, although we did enjoy one band who played by the pool and sang Eagles songs and others like that. Some of our MDR table mates were rushing off to get a good seat for the show, we wandered in to a couple and watched for a few minutes, they were good, but it's not really our thing. We don't play the casinos either. We loved the martini bar for a pre dinner drink and enjoyed the company of others here. It's a great place and the Celebrity champagne is very good. We liked to go to the rear of the ship at 4pm for afternoon tea, an excellent selection of sweet and savoury and take it outside to join in the trivia quiz. Another gripe, and I don't mean this to sound like continuous moaning because we had a great time overall, however, we hated the way there were too few sun loungers to go round on sea days and that they were so cramped together it was ridiculous. We witnessed sunbed wars on several occasions and even a fight. We tended to sunbathe early then go for a late lunch (removing our towels). After lunch if we wanted more sun we headed to the lawn deck where there was always space on the grass. Often we were happy just to go back to our balcony and read and relax. The weather was very hot and we got some wonderful sunsets. I realise this is turning into a novel and I haven't yet touched on the wonderful ports we visited. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We arrived in Barcelona on the day of our sailing, and headed straight from the airport to the pier. There we were greeted by porters, who quickly made luggage tags for us, seeing how Celebrity doesn't ship them to our country. ... Read More
We arrived in Barcelona on the day of our sailing, and headed straight from the airport to the pier. There we were greeted by porters, who quickly made luggage tags for us, seeing how Celebrity doesn't ship them to our country. Check-in was quick and easy, and we only had a short wait before they let us on board early. We headed up to the Ocean View buffet and had lunch, seeing how we had been up since 4.am and had nothing to eat on the way. The buffet was not too crowded, and the selection of food types was excellent! We used the buffet for lunch several times, and although the selection never really changed much, the quality of the food was way superior to my experiences with other cruise lines. The pizza was a huge hit with hubby and myself, and some of the free ice cream selection (there were new flavour every day) was delicious. We're not talking Italian gelato-delicious, but absolutely the best free ice cream I've had on a ship so far. The assortment of candy was also appreciated, and we often picked up a bowl on the way to one of the shows. The ship itself is marvelous, with beautifully designed public areas. The Sky Lounge was stunning, and could have been used for more activities than it did on our cruise. The various bars also looked good, from the chilly martini bar to the space-age-crazy Quazar. I know some people prefer the promenade type of midship design like RCI tends to use for its ships, but personally I find this kind of ship prettier. Less shopping mall-like and better use of the space. It also makes each area seem more private and less noisy - it was never too crowded anywhere. The lawn club was an interesting touch, very strange to come across a proper lawn at sea. That being said, the Mediterranean climate must be very harsh for the grass, as it was very dry and didn't feel like the soft, squishy grass I have in my garden. However, it seemed like a great area for sunbathing (for those who enjoy such things) and for families to play the various lawn games. The pool area was extremely crowded on most days, but sailing at max capacity and with 400 children on board I'm not surprised. I don't care much for laying in the sun, but the pool was too busy at times for me. The Solarium pool was less crowded, and such a lovely, relaxing area the Solarium is! I loved the water feature and spent several hours just relaxing and watching it. But the pool was a bit too shallow, and all the pools were too cold to my taste. If I were someone who feels bothered with children and crowds, however, I would have booked the cruise at a different time. Summer holiday + great fares = busy, busy, busy. The entertainment on board was a mixed experience. The one thing that really stands out is the Hot Glass Show, which hubby and I would go see every time after the first one. The three glassblowers on board, Aric, Tom and Bob, did an amazing job both at narrating and communicating with the audience, as well as make stunning pieces of glass. We absolutely loved it! Celebrity would do good to provide some better seats for the show, though, as the benches were rough on those of us who would watch the entire show, sometimes twice a day. We also loved one of the destination speakers, the archaeologist Chris Gregg, who had five talks on various port-related themes, including Pompeii, Rome and Gaudi's Barcelona. The talks were both educating and entertaining, and we felt very lucky to be on that one cruise this summer that he was doing port talks for. We also watched the three production shows in the main theatre, with singers, dancers and acrobats. The latter were extremely impressive, but the singers weren't that spectacular. The dancers mainly did a great job, but I cringed and wanted to hide when they attempted to do Riverdance. Both hubby and I adored the clown Andrew, who did a hilarious excursion skit with one poor audience member. There were other shows, with singers (Claire Maidlin and a Scottish guy) and a flutist doing pop music, none of which were to our taste. In addition there was a jazz band, a woman playing the guitar and singing (Jana Steele, I think, she was very good) and a house band. All in all there was activity all day, but more subdued than the semi-crazy Quest games of other cruise lines. Regarding dinner on board, it was a very, very pleasant surprise. We were in an Aqua Class stateroom, and dined in the AQ-dining room, Blu. Celebrity claims Blu serves a lighter fare, but there was no feel of "diet" or "low fat" to be felt. A four course meal every night, with entree choices always including pasta, fish, fowl, meat or vegetarian. We usually skipped salad/soup, and the two times we didn't, we ended up feeling too full. However, some portions can be very small, like one pasta dish which literally had three pieces of normal sized ravioli. The waiters seem to be aware of this, and asked if we wanted "another one". All in all the waiters were very attentive and friendly, and even if we didn't have an assigned table, we saw familiar faces every day. In fact, we loved Blu so much that we never got around to trying the other speciality restaurants... And we would definitively book Aqua Class again, just because of the restaurant. Blu was also the only place, apart from room service (which is great, by the way! Do try breakfast on the balcony one day,) where you could get an acceptable cup of coffee. The buffet coffee was downright awful, and the Cafe al Bacchio needs to either switch their coffee brand or send the staff on some barista summer school, as it has a very icky aftertaste and was definitively not worth paying extra money for. But apart from that minor detail (however, when it comes to coffee nothing is minor with this lady), we had a great time on the Solstice. The ship was beautiful, the crew friendly and attentive, and apart from the pool on sea days, it never felt crowded. The cabin was clean and had a well designed bathroom, and the balcony was great. The food was overall surprisingly good, and best of all, the itinerary was absolutely amazing. We would do it again tomorrow if we could! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Overall lovely ship with fantastic crew, wonderful service and excellent food. Very port intensive itinerary, Barcelona:Rome:Kotor:Venice:Dubrovnik:Napes:Livorno:Toulon with 3 sea days. After a short flight form Heathrow we ... Read More
Overall lovely ship with fantastic crew, wonderful service and excellent food. Very port intensive itinerary, Barcelona:Rome:Kotor:Venice:Dubrovnik:Napes:Livorno:Toulon with 3 sea days. After a short flight form Heathrow we landed at Barcelona Airport. We had a very long delay at baggage reclaim for our British Airways flight - about an hour, all baggage seemed to be mixed in with other flights. Check in at pier very organised and quick. Dedicated check ins for each category of cabin and Captains Club Status. Independence of the Seas and Costa Serena in port. We had our wrong Captains Club status (we're Elite) printed on our card which was a bit of a nuisance which I comment on later. Day 2 at sea, sailing through the Straight of Bonifacio, between Corsica and Sardinia which are 7 m apart. Nice to see Celebrity still offers towels at the pool without having to swipe your card RCCL style, and also offers sorbet and iced towels during the day. Sun Loungers at a premium after 10am. Pool butlers do place warning cards on lounger but do not on occasion follow through with removal of items as often as they perhaps should. Day 3 Rome We chose the "A Taste of Rome" excursion. Early start and easy journey into Rome on a quiet Sunday morning. Exited the coach in the area of the Vatican. Free time of 3 hrs. Crossed the Tiber and headed for the main sights. Once we found the Piazza Navona we picked up the pedestrianised grid system and found the other main sights very accessible. The guide should have explained this. Had lunch in the Pantheon Square and then wandered back to meet the guide for a tour inside the Vatican. Evening entertainment was Claire Maidin, who works with Simon Cowell as a vocal coach for show contestants. Very professional and entertaining show with a mix of music. Day 4. Sea. Passed through Straights of Messina, between Sicily and Italy nr Palermo. 2nd formal night, with the 3rd being the final sea day. Day 5. Kotor : Montenegro. Rainy start to the day which made the cobbled streets very hazardous. Tender port. Spectacular setting in bay, Shops a bit tacky. Day 6. Venice. Arrival for 5pm. Spectacular sail in past San Marco Square and the Canale Della Guidecca on the starboard side. We were invited to the helipad at the bow for an unforgettable transit of the canal. Celebrity offer a ships shuttle at $22 for 1 day and $36 for 2 days. We disembarked over an hour after arrival to find a horrendously long queue at the pier. Wait was around 45m and they were offering water to the line. Continuous vaparetto struggled to reduce the waiting time, the journey to near San Marco was around 20m from the pier. We returned just as the sun was setting having had a lovely dinner in a trattoria. Day 2 encountered an extremely long walk to the pier for the shuttle which had been relocated from day 1 to allow a Costa ship to berth. We boarded the first one at 8 which was quiet. The distance to pick up this service was disappointing given that it was a Celebrity sold shuttle rather than a local pier one. I have overhead others complain of long lines to return to the ship in the late evening of day 1 and many received refunds. It is something no doubt they will be looking to improve upon in forthcoming cruises. We took a local vaparetto service on day 2 to Murano which was wonderful and well worth a visit on the second day having enjoyed an early morning visit to a very quiet Square, Grand Canal and Rialto. Ship sails away back through same route so it doesn't matter which side your cabin is on, you will see it sailing in or away ! Day 8. Dubrovnik. Docked at Gruz Harbour. Ships shuttle $12 each. Appears local taxis charge 10 euros for same journey. Due to the fact that the ship does not dock until afternoon and it is high tourist season, Dubrovnik was horrendously overcrowded and lost its charm to us. It was too hot ( in the high 90s ) to enjoy it, and walk around the ramparts. Our shuttle took over 45m for a 15m journey as we got delayed in some visiting dignitary transit. The return pick up was disorganised and a free for all to board the buses, amongst other moving coaches and not value for money. Both euros and kunes are equally used. The Bay of Gruz harbour is a pleasant stop if you wish to avoid Dubrovnik. Day 9 : Sea Return through passage between Sicily and Italy. Day 10. Naples. We choose trip to Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii. Excellent guide Guisseppe, 50m jetfoil to Capri from Napels. Then Funicular - 5 mins - to Caprl. Very overcrowded in high season. Then boat to Sorrento for lunch in a very pleasant Trattoria. Drive along coastline to Pompeii. 1 hr guided tour. Day 11. Livorno for Florence. We were very glad to have chosen the Panoramic Florence Tour which was 6 hrs after the long 10 hr trip the previous day. This is a very port intensive cruise and travellers should be aware of the long exhausting days in high temperatures, coaches and ferries are not as well air cond'd as the US. Visited first leather factory then Michelangelo Sq for wonderful views of Florence and the Ponte Vecchio. Then dropped close to the Duomo for free time of around 2 hrs. Easy to walk to the Ponte V. and there are lots of high end retail stores in this area. Hard Rock Cafe too. Tour did what is described and we enjoyed, although others commented on lack of guided tour within the city but this was not in the description anyway. Day 12 Toulon Trip to Aix en Provence. Docked in La Seyne Sur Mer which is quite attractive. Shops offers shuttles to Toulon across the bay which is a naval port. Aix trip dropped us centrally at the fountain in centre with choice of walking tour or free time. Excellent guide Jose. Overall : Select dining - can be inconsistent. We tended to eat around 9 when it was a little less chaotic. The maitre d's are too keen to seat guests at tables that have been hastily cleared and partially reset. As these tables clearly lack the basics of side plates, butter knives or water glasses perhaps it would offer the guests a better experience if they had to wait a few more minutes rather than be seated somewhere not fit for purpose. If you are seated in a block of 8 tables running together, they are very close together and have the feel of a large table. We requested ones with more space and the dining experience was transformed. RCCL My Time Dining on the Brilliance had more space between tables and more opportunities to sit with the same waiters if you so choose. Internet - service very erratic. They seemed to struggle with connections problems on this cruise. I overhead one officer in the I Lounge stating that he had just started the job a week ago and was regretting it already. Given the high charges that customers encountered it could be better. I was very appreciative of my 'free' Elite minutes on this occasion ! Captains Club - given that we had the incorrect status on our card it was a nuisance to have to chase this considering I had already confirmed it would be ok with the UK office. I experienced the same problem on our RCCL cruise in February. It appears their system picks up your status at the point you book your cruise rather than update after each cruise, we had taken 2 since making the booking 14 mths ago. Anyway the Captains Club hostess very efficiently corrected this but it shouldn't happen in the first place. We didn't use Michaels Club for cocktails as it fell too early 5 till 7 each evening. We preferred to be on deck at the Lawn Club at this time of day. On the Independence I loved cocktail time as it has its own bright airy lounge next to the Sky Bar with outside space, something that would be nice to see on the large Solstice Class ships. Shows - loved Claire Maidin and the violinist in the theatre who both received standing ovations. This was our first Celebrity cruise for over 7 years and they still have those little touches that make it special. The officers are extremely friendly and helpful and mingle well. The staff are always smiling and greet you every time. Celebrity is a far better product overall than RCCL given that they are in the same price bracket. The one thing they could improve upon is the music. How about somethings for us younger passengers - The Beach Boys Tribute or The Beatles. Also some rock at the pool. There is still an emphasis on string quartets, big band and funeral elevator music. I would not hesitate to recommend this itinerary and cruise line. 5 star. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
First time on a cruise wasn't too sure what to expect buT OMG we were absolutley blown away. If you can appreciate the finer things in life and you adopt the whole ethos of what cruising is then this is the holiday for you. everything ... Read More
First time on a cruise wasn't too sure what to expect buT OMG we were absolutley blown away. If you can appreciate the finer things in life and you adopt the whole ethos of what cruising is then this is the holiday for you. everything about this cruise was fantastic, the ship was absolutley spotless, the food was out of this world and so was the service from all on board who were charged with making your holiday special. My husband and I travelled with two more couples, we all had a fantastic holiday each of us getting something different out of this cruise, but all of us were of the same opinion excellent. We went ashore in every port, and we booked a trip to Rome, that was very interesting if you are in to culture, but it's just nice to go and see it even if your not. The formal evenings were brilliant, you have to do this it's part of the experience, (for all you i'm not too sure it might be a bit too posh for me people) it's not it's what you make it for yourselves, it's very nice, we had a blast. We had an inside stateroom, I was a bit unsure about being in an inside cabin, but all that changed when we saw it, it was so comfortable they have thought of everything, and to be honest we did'nt spend a lot of time in the room other than to sleep and get ready to go off ship or out at night. We booked a drinks package to suit us and we found that it was the best thing to do for us, you have to weigh up what you think you might drink for the duration of your trip, don't forget this is five star so you will have five star prices. Celebrity were great with our party, one of whom became ill on the trip and could not drink alcohol, having seen the ship's doctor they allowed us to change one of the packages, and re-imbursed the difference for a soft drinks package with no fuss and bother. There is so much to do on the ship, you will never be bored, you can even walk on real grass, watch some beautiful sunsets, just chill, out and thats the name of the game here, chill,chill,chill and enjoy everything that cruising has to offer, can't wait for my next one, I could do this med cruise half a dozen times and see something different every time, it's amazing i'm a definate convert, maybe the Carribean will be next who knows. Read Less
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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