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Sail Date: May 2009
This was the maiden eastern Mediterranean voyage for the Solstice. Most of our feelings about the cruise were positive. The ship, being new, is beautiful. It's contemporary style is contrary to our own personal style, but we ... Read More
This was the maiden eastern Mediterranean voyage for the Solstice. Most of our feelings about the cruise were positive. The ship, being new, is beautiful. It's contemporary style is contrary to our own personal style, but we appreciated the design. Service was terrific. The main Grand Eperney dining room offered excellent food - better than the Princess and Regent cruises we had taken before. The cafe with the buffet stations had varied choices for breakfast and lunch however, the evening offerings, if opted instead of the main, were slim.Our main difficulty with the cruise was their handling of the shore excursions. Since this was their maiden voyage, I imagine that they will work out many of the kinks, but their handling of stickers and tenders (at Santorini) was abhorrent! The volcano/hot springs tour was a disappointment. The springs might be hot in summer but definitely not in May.Rhodes had been dropped as a port after we signed up for the cruise, which was disappointing. Embarkation went very smoothly but disembarking was a nighmare with difficulty finding luggage and getting a shuttle to the train station. This makes it sound as if we might not have enjoyed the cruise but we truly did and would recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
My husband and I have cruised before but this was our first time on Celebrity. We loved it would rate it as one of our favorite ships. We were pleasantly surprised to find a good age range of people on this ship as well as people from all ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised before but this was our first time on Celebrity. We loved it would rate it as one of our favorite ships. We were pleasantly surprised to find a good age range of people on this ship as well as people from all over the world. We met so many interesting friendly people and enjoyed our experience on the ship very much. Pre Hotel - I traded in Hilton Honors points to stay for free at the Hilton Cavalieri located on a hill overlooking St. Peter's Basilica and the city of Rome. It is a wonderful hotel in a beautiful, peaceful location. If you had to pay I am not sure I would recommend it, because the cost per night is ridiculously high, but if you are a Hilton member it's worth trading in points. They will even upgrade members to a floor where there was complimentary food, drinks and cocktails offered from 7AM - 11 PM. The hotel offers a free shuttle that runs all day to the heart of the city. Embark/Debark - A breeze both ways. We took Rome Cabs and were dropped off right at the ship about noon. They were on time, professional and friendly. The debarkation process was very efficient, quick, and well organized. We took the ship transfer to the airport and although I had no complaints, the next time around I would stick with Rome Cabs since they were cheaper. Public Rooms - Beautiful ship! Compared to previous ships we have been on, this was the most sophisticated and elegant. At times, it felt more like a luxury hotel. I thought the layout was very nice, the grassy area was wonderful, the big comfy chairs and beds on the sun deck were great, and the lack of smoke in the casino was a nice benefit. Fitness/Recreation - Wonderful exercise facility and pools. We found ourselves loving the grassy area and we got addicted to Bocci. It was especially nice with a cocktail at sail aways. It was nice to have such a unique entertaining space on a ship. Dining - Admittedly we didn't eat in the main dining room very much. While I had no complaints, there were just so many other great options and fun things to do that having a 2 hour meal every night did not appeal to me. We both loved Murano, Tuscan Grille and Silk Harvest and I felt they were more than worth the extra charge. Another great place was Bistro on Five which had delicious crepes. One suggestion to people on a similar itinerary is to take advantage of the nights you are in ports late and enjoy the local cuisine. As fabulous as the food was on board, some of our most memorable meals we had were on shore having wonderful local Greek and Turkish Food. That being said, we had no complaints about the food in any of the venues. Entertainment - We only saw a couple of shows, mostly because there were so many other things we wanted to do. There was just not enough time to enjoy everything. The dance club and upper lounge were popular places and the band was quite good. One of my surprise favorites was watching the Hot Glass Show. It was very interesting and strangely therapeutic to watch. A tip if you want to win a piece in the drawings is to go the last night because there is hardly anyone that night and your odds are better. Otherwise, it was always popular.  Also, although not officially "entertainment" the bartenders at the Martini Bar were great fun. They put on quite a show and kept the crowd entertained every night.  Service - Outstanding! I never met a rude crew member and found them all to be outgoing, helpful and friendly. I saw a disgruntled guest yelling at a crew member who remained calm and smiled while trying his best to be helpful. I have the utmost respect for the crew who sees thousands of new people every week and has to handle less than kind people every day but manages to do it with such calm. The Greek captain was very entertaining and it was refreshing to have a captain who had such a good sense of humor. We found if you greeted the crew back in their native language (it's not that hard to learn a few "good morning's" or "thank you's" in a few different languages), that they really appreciated it. Ports - For more detail and good tips see my port reviews below, this is a brief summary. For the most part we tackled the ports on our own which was very easy to do with a little research.  In Rome make sure to pre-book a tour if you plan to visit the Vatican Museum and buy a Roma Pass if you visit sites. You will save hours of time not waiting in long lines. Santorini was beautiful, be sure to get off early to beat crowds up the funicular and visit Ia which was the highlight of the island. If you are a history buff go to Delos while stopped in Mykonos. The ship's tour was convenient and gave you enough time to enjoy Mykonos as well. Istanbul was crazy but worth the experience. We ultimately decided on the ship's tour which turned out to be a good decision because the traffic was horrendous and the guide we had was a professor who knew so much about the history and culture that it really added to the experience. For those hesitant because you don't want to go to a rug demonstration keep in mind you are not held captive, you can skip the demonstration and look around other places then meet back up with the group. Several people did that with no problems. I found it humorous that people complained about the rug demo when all you had to do was walk away and join up later. In Ephesus we did a private tour with Ekol Travel. I highly recommend this to get the most out of that incredible port. In Athens I heard comments on the ship about the crowds at the Acropolis. The best advice I can give anyone reading this is to get off the ship the second you are cleared and take a taxi directly to the Acropolis first thing in the morning. This is what we did and were able to experience the Acropolis almost by ourselves. There was only 3 other people on the top. In Naples we went to the Naples Archeological Museum which houses wonderful things that have been recovered from Pompeii and the Roman Baths of Caracalla.  If like us, you have already been to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast I highly recommend this coupled with some Napoli Pizza and a walk through the city. It is an experience you won't soon forget. I went into more detail in the port review with a few more tips I discovered. Overall - We could not have asked for a better experience. We honestly loved every minute. We like adventure but also enjoy a little class so it was a perfect vacation for us. We were able to go out on our own and experience some wonderful sites and come back to an elegant ship. I missed getting information from some of the great people we met so I hope we see you sometime on the Equinox. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Celebrity Solstice Review - May 4, 2009 - Eastern MediterraneanABOUT USFirst off let me give you some general information about us. We are both in our mid 30's and have two young children (who didn't come with us on this cruise). ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Review - May 4, 2009 - Eastern MediterraneanABOUT USFirst off let me give you some general information about us. We are both in our mid 30's and have two young children (who didn't come with us on this cruise). We grew up in Southern California and now live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are big time foodies, enjoy going to the theater and like listening to music ranging from jazz standards to top-40. Somewhat new to cruising, this was our first time on Celebrity but our third cruise.We booked this trip to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. For this vacation, we tagged 3 nights in Paris pre-cruise, then took an overnight train to Rome to catch the ship for this 11 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise with ports in Santorini, Mykonos, Istanbul, Kusadasi/Ephesus, Athens, and Naples/Capri. We then took 2 nights post-cruise in Rome before heading back to California.EMBARKATIONWe connected with 3 other couples through Cruise Critic and arranged transfer from Rome to the Port of Civitavecchia. A large van from Rome Cabs picked us up at Rome Termini approximately 11:00AM then drove through the city to pick up others from their hotels. Timing was perfect and we arrived at the port of Civitavecchia at around 1:00PM. With this being Solstice's first Eastern Mediterranean sailing, we weren't sure if we would be allowed on the ship prior to the posted boarding time of 3:00PM. When we arrived, there were plenty of other guests who mentioned they were on the ship well before noon. We were told the rooms weren't ready, but we went ahead and dropped of our carry-on bags in our Aqua Class room on Deck 11. We had room 1450 just under the Aqua Spa Salon. After dropping off our carry-on bags we headed over to the Aqua Spa Cafe for a nice, quiet and delicious lunch. We were so tired from the train travel that we didn't want to deal with the crowd and lines at the Oceanview Cafe. Our impressions of the food at the Spa Cafe were better than expected. More on food below.THE SHIPNot going to say too much about the ship as others have already commented. This ship is absolutely beautiful! There were other ships doing similar itineraries but one of the main reasons we booked Solstice was because it was a new ship with design and decor that match our tastes. In two words... Contemporary Elegance. Reminded me of the Sofitel brand of hotels we see throughout the world. However, speaking with other guests on the ship, some said they hated the decor and used words like "antiseptic" or "sterile" to describe it. Many of these folks sailed on the Millennium class and were constantly making comparisons and complaints. I couldn't say much to rebut since we haven't sailed on those other ships. We personally love the ship's design and decor and the pictures you see posted on-line don't do justice.THE STATEROOMOur AQ cabin was spacious and beautiful. Again not going to mention too much to avoid repetition from other reviews. I specifically chose the location of the cabin under the Aqua Spa Salon because there is no activity in the salon in the evenings and that it is also very close to the relaxation room, spa, and gym. We never heard any noise from the deck above. We would highly recommend that if you're booking an AQ cabin and use the Spa amenities often, to book one of the forward cabins. This also avoids the "alleged" soot that some have mentioned on prior sailings. My only complaint was that there is very little storage space for an 11 night cruise. We overpacked! but managed to get everything stored and hidden. We know now for our next Europe cruise to pack light and make use of the ships laundry and dry cleaning services.Aqua ClassTo us, AQ was definitely worth the couple of hundred dollars difference from Concierge class. Not sure how else to describe, but here's a list (in no particular order) of main points (positive and negative) about AQ class- priority embarkation line was short when we arrived at the port - loved the large jetted shower- fresh flowers were a nice touch- extra toiletries were especially nice and not overly scented- proximity to Aqua Spa amenities (if booking a forward cabin)- food in Blu was excellent (more on food later)- more diverse room service options (used it several times)- huge fluffy towels and bathrobes- we enjoyed receiving fresh fruit daily (great to have on hand after spending time in the gym)- ice tea has a strange after taste but was refreshed daily and tasted better with sweetener or sugar- daily water bottles (we requested 4 per day) were appreciated for taking with you to the gym and on a couple of the hot port days- relaxation room was great however, it is not exclusive to AQ guests. It got quite loud sometimes since the room is also used as a waiting room for those getting a spa treatment. - the afternoon canapes are disgusting! Tried them the first day. It's like eating wallpaper paste! We overheard some folks in the halls complaining why they don't automatically receive them anymore and now have to fill out a card to get them, but I see how wasteful it could be if they provided them automatically to everyone in CC and AQ.THE FOODBlu - Because we were booked in an AQ room, we were assigned to Blu. We decided to choose late dining because of the port intensive itinerary. Again, we're foodies and eat at many fine dining establishments in the San Francisco Bay area and Napa Valley. So, after reading many mixed reviews of Blu, we were a little worried and came in with low expectations. In the end, we were actually quite impressed with the food there. The service was great but a little spotty (e.g. water glasses weren't always filled). But this didn't bother us. The Maitre 'd came by our table every night to see how we were doing and to chat with us. We also had wonderful "table mates". The menu selection was very diverse, and the portion sizes were just right. Not too little and not too large. We never left the table feeling hungry or bloated and we were always satisfied. Preparation, presentation, flavor and freshness were on par with many of the great land restaurants we've dined at. Heard a few complaints about there not being enough food on the plates. I say if you want more, just order another dish! Our server figured out from the beginning that we enjoy pasta. So she came with a pasta/starch dish every night for us to taste and share along with our main entree. We also thought the dessert selection was excellent. Not too sweet and not too bland. Everything was just right. We had breakfast in Blu once and it was also a wonderful experience. Breakfast service ended in Blu at around 9:00am. Because there were so few people dining there in the morning, the service was great and the food came very hot. It was a nice, quiet and intimate breakfast. I only wish we could have woken up earlier to enjoy the breakfast experience there more often. But sleeping in is a must when you're on vacation! In general, eating in Blu was truly a clean dining experience. We tended to stick with our servers recommendations which were spot on. Eating there and avoiding the Oceanview Cafe was also a great way for us to maintain portion control yet still feel very satisfied with our meal. Happy to say that we actually maintained our weight after returning from the cruise. We were curious about the specialty restaurants and had a chance to eat at all 4 of them.Bistro on Five - This was a surprise! Ate there for lunch one day and thought it was delicious. We highly recommend the Cowboy and Mediterranean crepes. Minor issue for us there is that the texture of the crepes seemed to be more like a tortilla. So it was more like a quesadilla than a crepe. It wasn't as much an issue for the savory dishes, but it was for the dessert crepes. We expected the dessert crepes to be soft, light and fluffy (the way the French do it). But it was the same tortilla like texture of the savory crepes. Flavors however were still excellent. For dessert go for the Banana Nutella crepe!Tuscan Grille - We ate at Tuscan Grille after spending a day in Athens. This was a mistake. We should have booked Tuscan Grille for another day because we had a fairly large, but very delicious authentic Greek meal for lunch while in port. So we came back to the ship feeling not too hungry. The food portions at Tuscan Grill were way too large. We felt very wasteful by not finishing each plate. I was already pretty full after the delicious crabmeat appetizer I had. All-in-all the flavors of the food at Tuscan Grille were great. The steaks there are just as good as the ones offered in Blu. Except Tuscan Grill will give you a steak 2-3 times the size. So, in our opinion, if you eat in Blu, there's no need to eat at Tuscan Grille. But if you are not in Blu, eat at Tuscan Grill but be prepared for a very large dinner.Murano - This was our best dining experience. Service was excellent and the waitstaff was very friendly. I only wish they were a little more personable as they seemed to be very robotic. They seemed too concerned about what fork or knife to lay down, and to make sure no breadcrumb was left on your table. We personally don't care about all this and really are more into the food flavors, ingredients, and preparation. But alas, the waitstaff came to life when we engaged them in more conversation. When we were seated, we were shortly presented with a mise en bouche of salmon pate with creme fraiche and caviar. This was delicious and left us wanting more! If you like fois gras, the fois gras appetizer they have is hands down the best we've tasted. We each ordered it along with a second appetizer. The cheese souffle there was also excellent. Salads were also fresh and perfectly seasoned. After the salad and soup, we were then served with a refreshing intermezzo of mango granite to cleanse our palates. Since it was formal night and we didn't want to miss out on lobster, we each ordered the surf and turf entree. Again, food was prepared well and tasted great. We declined the cheese course and ordered dessert which to our surprise was just okay. In general, the appetizers were the highlight of the meal. The next time we eat there, I would be inclined to just order multiple appetizer and salad courses and I would be happy. This is the only specialty restaurant that I would recommend as a must-do.Silk Harvest - This was our biggest disappointment. I had some high expectations after reading the rave reviews on Cruise Critic about this Asian fusion restaurant. The atmosphere in the restaurant was buzzing. There was a large group of 20+ people occupying the center table and they were being quite...festive. Some complained but it didn't bother us. As far as the food goes, I really wanted to like this place. Maybe it's what we ordered or maybe we ordered too much and got full after the first few dishes, but something was just not right. We ordered a couple of the small plates for appetizers as well as a sushi sampler plate. These we pretty good but not great. Then came the green curry pork and the pad thai. We are both asian so these were just not tasting right at all. I don't know what was fusion about it at all. I had no idea of what they were trying to fuse....asian-french, asian-american, etc? There was no flavor to the dishes at all and the pork in the curry was too chewy. The waiter came by and I asked for more fish sauce, chili, cilantro and some other seasonings. They were happy to provide this but we later just gave up and decided to get dessert. Then the Maitre 'd came by and spoke with us. Great guy! We had a wonderful discussion about the ship, various dining venues and the great service we've been receiving. He then asked about the food. I was honest and told him what we thought and he took notes. He basically explained that this is their first time trying to do Asian fusion and Silk Harvest has been having a very difficult time trying to balance the flavors to appeal to everyone and that they've been working to fine tune the menu. Our general impression of this place is that the food here is definitely not fusion. Basically, we can get a better pad thai or green curry at our local hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant for less than $10 total. And land based P.F. Chang's is 10 times better. On the brighter side, the Maitre 'd was appreciative of our comments and the time we took to talk with him. He said verbatim... "well, you are a key customer and we want you sail with us again". Thought that was a strange comment. To our surprise, when we returned to our cabin, we saw that the cover to the restaurant was credited back in full. Wow! We were very surprised with this gesture!Oceanview Cafe - We only ate at the Oceanview Cafe buffet 3-4 times during the entire trip and only for a light breakfast or to pick up a small late night snack. So can't say much about their lunch or dinner. In general, food was pretty good and very diverse. We enjoyed the various egg type dishes as well as the pastries. The chocolate desserts there were delicious! They had this one awesome melt-in-your mouth chocolate desert that looked like a Hostess Ding Dong. It made for a great late night snack to go with tea or coffee.Grand Epernay - We had lunch once in Grand Epernay. Lunch was good but not great. A little bland. But if the lunch we had in Grand Epernay is indicative of what their dinner is like, then I'm glad we booked AQ for Blu alone. We also went to Grand Epernay for the "Mother's Day Brunch". The staff handed out single stem roses to all the women which was nice. The food station setup was beautiful and made for nice pictures. There were two chocolate fondue fountains flanking a huge dessert presentation. There were meat carving stations, a cheese station, a waffle station, several entree stations, etc. Lots off food to choose from. Food was pretty good. As far as flavor goes, it's pretty much what you would get at the Oceanview cafe for breakfast and lunch. THE PORTS OF CALL:Santorini - Wish we had spent more time here. It is such a beautiful place. The ship arrived at 2:00PM and was scheduled to leave a 11:00PM. So we felt very rushed to take it all in. The daily newsletter indicated that tender tickets would be available for distribution beginning 8:00AM. So, I decided to be the first one in line at 7:30AM. It was a good move as I later learned that many folks didn't get on to the island until close to 4:00PM! We took the tender a little after 2 and took the cable car. After a little searching for the bus stop to Oia, we learned that the bus only ran hourly. By the time the next bus came, it was already 3:30PM and we didn't make it to Oia until almost 4PM! After rushing to view the Oia sights, we were fortunate to bump into some friends we met on our Rome-Port transfer who had rented a car. We hitched a ride with them back to Fira and had some time to walk around and have delicious souvlaki and lamb meatball dinner. Near the end of the day, the line for the cable car was very long and wrapped around a couple of blocks! It was getting very cold so we decided to walk down the donkey trail! Interesting experience and it got very challenging to try and "dodge the bullets" as the sun started setting. In hindsight, we should have rented a car as the island seems to be very drivable. Those that booked excursions through Celebrity had no problem getting to the island early, but everyone still ended up in Fira to either catch the cable car, ride the donkey, or walk down back to the tender. Lots of congestion. We were the only ship in port that evening, so I can imagine what a nightmare it would be if there was another one scheduled to depart in the evening as well.Mykonos - This was our lazy port day and one of our favorite ports. We took our time getting out of bed and eating breakfast. I had purchased shuttle tickets to take us to town ($10 each). Saw a few walking to town but glad we didn't as it is not very scenic and there is no pedestrian walkway. We spent time strolling the shops, taking pictures, and enjoying the scenery. Before heading back to the ship, we ended the day sitting at an outdoor restaurant/cafe and had some delicious Greek salad and a mixed seafood plate while watching the people pass by. Istanbul - We toured Istanbul on our own. Unfortunately, the first day we were there, we made the mistake of buying shuttle tickets through the ship. Traffic was terrible going into town and much worse getting back to the ship. Coming back was almost a 2 hour process. Also, the shuttle stops running at around 6:30. This didn't make sense to us since it is an overnight port. First day we visited the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. That evening, a large group of us (arranged through Cruise Critic roll-call) went to Sultana's, a Turkish dinner show. It was a very good show not only featuring some belly dancers but also some authentic Turkish folk dancing. There was some audience participation that also featured some of our Cruise Critic friends. The food at Sultana's was also quite good and featured some authentic appetizers and desserts. For the 2nd day in Istanbul, we decided to take the tram and spend the morning at Topkapi Palace. The tram was quick, easily accessible and around 2 Lira. After an exhausting day, we headed back to the ship and enjoyed room service lunch on our balcony as we sailed away from Istanbul.Kusadasi/Ephesus - This port was the unexpected surprise port of our cruise. We had little knowledge and went in with no clue as to what we were going to see. We had arranged a private tour through Ekol Travel and did a Jeep Safari tour to the village of Sirence followed by a tour of Ephesus and the Terrace Houses, and a visit to the House of Virgin Mary. Surprisingly, there were only 3 or 4 other cars from our ship that caravanned along with us. We thought this was the best way to see the countryside as the driver and guide took us off-road for some beautiful scenery. Be warned though that this excursion is not for the faint of heart. One couple turned back likely due to fear of heights. At many points during the excursion we were hugging the mountainside along some steep cliffs. Our guide Tanner was excellent. He's a graduate in archaeology and ancient civilizations and gave us so much information. At one point we did end up at a rug presentation following a great lunch at the same location. But that was okay with us as we know this business is their livelihood. We also weren't able to see a presentation when we were in Istanbul so it was quite interesting. After a long 8 hour excursion, we were dropped off in Kusadasi then headed to a restaurant for an authentic Turkish dinner.Athens - We had arranged a private tour of Athens with Jordan Ntaioglou and shared it with another couple we met through Cruise Critic. He was highly recommended on the boards and we were very lucky to secure him. Jordan is a very funny and informative guide. He is so proud of his Greek culture and was very happy to educate us about Greek history. Prior to stopping at each site, he would give us a brief explanation of the site as well as the history of its existence. He would then drop us off to allow us to spend time at the site as well as for some photos. After returning back to the cab he would quiz us on what we learned. He sure kept us on our toes! He took us to many of the main Athens sites as well as a chance to see the changing of the guard. It was a warm day, and by the end of it, we were "ruined" out! The highlight of the tour was when he took us to an authentic Greek taverna for lunch. The food was probably the best tasting food we had on the entire trip! As much as we loved our tour guide and visiting the Acropolis, we probably wouldn't visit Athens again. We found it to be too smoggy and dirty, and on a warm and crowded day at the ruins, it is not very enjoyable.Naples/Capri - With this being the last day before the end of the cruise we made this another lazy port day. Having been to Italy before, we decided to go to Capri again. We took an early hydrofoil to Capri at around 8:30AM. Got to the island and immediately bought our return ticket back for 2:30PM. Luckily there were no huge lines for the funicular. Once we were up at the top, we had some delicious pastries and espresso with our table mates from Blu. We then walked lazily around the town for a little souvenir shopping and visited the gardens of Augustus for some photos. As the day progressed, there were more and more people on the island. So, we skipped lunch, had some gelato then headed back down the funicular to catch the hydrofoil back to the ship for a late lunch at the Mast Grill. We were so in the mood for burgers!THE GYM/SPA:With all the food we were eating, we thought it would be good to spend some time in the gym. I enrolled in 3 spin classes (@ $12 per class) while my wife spent some time on the treadmill. The machines were never crowded and there seemed to always be availability.Following our day in Capri, we headed back to the ship early and took advantage of the 50% discount they had on spa treatments. We each had the hot stone massage and thought it was one of the best massages we've ever had. The great thing is that I never got a sales pitch for product. However, my wife did and promptly said "no".ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES:There were 3 main shows. Two of them seemed to be your run-of-the-mill variety cruise show. We were happy to see that the Broadway review show featured some of the more modern musical pieces. But I think a lot of the guests just had no idea. We saw a lot of blank stares when one of the singers sang a song from Wicked. The Solstice show was pretty unique. It was Cirque du Soleil'ish but definitely not as good. The singing and vocal quality for the shows were just okay. But we have to give credit to the two principal dancers that were very good and were seen in all three shows.Oceans 4 was great, but we got tired of hearing them every night after the main shows. There were 3 other guest headliners playing; one a former broadway actor who was pretty good. He sang excerpts from various musicals and some standards. The other headliner was a vocalist/impressionist/comedian. I didn't care for her at all. The final headliner was a juggler whom we did not see.Surprisingly there was a lot to do in the evenings. There was a dance band "Top Secret" playing in the Sky Lounge until midnight almost every night. We enjoyed listening and dancing along with them but many retired early because of the early morning ports the following day. Spoke with the lead singer of the band and this sailing marked the end of thier contract. So not sure who's replacing them.To our surprise, Quasar was a happening spot (second to the martini bar)! Quasar was packed on a couple of the nights and we enjoyed meeting people there for drinks and dancing until 2:00AM on the nights before sea days. I think the large youthful international presence on board made for a great nightlife. One of our favorite days at sea was at the lawn club. We met so many great people and decided to meet up for some bocce and drinks. Pre-cruise, I personally didn't care much for the lawn based on reviews I've read, but now we are so happy with it. It is probably one of the best features this ship has to offer. That sea day spending time with new friends on the lawn will be one to remember.We later met up with the same people for some drinks at the martini bar. We ordered a few drinks including the flight of 6 which made for a great show.My wife sang karaoke one night and was called to compete in the "Starring You" competition as one of the top 6! We were so excited even though she was a little anxious to perform in front of 100's of people. She did a great job singing but unfortunately did not make it to the top 3. We had so much fun, and it was also a great way to get to meet new people who stopped us in the hallways, elevators, and lounges to congratulate her for a job well done.THE STAFF:Throughout the cruise, we had a lot of chances to talk to many of the wonderful staff members. These included the dining staff, entertainers, concierge, housekeeping, etc. These discussions were not about, "I need this" or "please bring me that". These discussions were about them and their lives. They have such a difficult job of making sure that we are all safe and taken care of. And regardless of their personal situations, they always put a smile on their face and always provided us with great service. We have much respect for them and for all the crew on Solstice.The last night of the cruise, we were quite surprised to get a call from one of the activities staff members to get together for some drinks. We met up with several of the activities coordinators in Quasar where we had some champagne and had a chance to talk about our cruise experience. It was great to get to know these folks on a more personal level and gathering also offered us a chance to let them know of how appreciative we are of the great job they were doing in bringing life to the guests. One interesting bit of info....turns out a lot of the staff on Solstice may be getting transfered to Equinox.HOT TOPICS:Dress CodeFormal nights were great on this sailing. It makes for a different buzz throughout the ship. My wife and I enjoy getting dressed up. We rarely get a chance to do this with two kids at home. And I work in a very casual environment. So this is something we enjoy doing. I wore a tux on both formal nights and my wife wore long dresses. I would say a good 50% of the men were in tuxes and the rest in dark suits. The women were all dressed very elegantly. Didn't see anything outside of the dress code on formal nights in the dining room.Smart casual nights was a different story. Keep in mind however that this sailing had a very international crowd. Lots of folks from South America and Europe. So, the definition of smart casual and their interpretation varied widely.In regards to the Cruise Critic hot topic of jeans on smart casual nights, I was able to get clarification from guest relations and also from the Maitre 'd at Blu. To set things straight for those on Cruise Critic, jeans are okay in the main dining rooms on smart casual nights and fall are under the definition of "pants". None of the documentation or cruise dailies mention anything about not wearing jeans. The pants just can't be torn, faded, or have holes. It was in the minority but I saw plenty of well dressed folks wearing dark jeans in the dining rooms. Women wore them with heels and nice blouses. Men wore them with blazers. We partook in the jean wearing trend on a couple of the nights. Put together well, we think it looks very nice and fits with the overall theme and decor of the ship. Go to any nice restaurant in Europe and this is what you'll see. But for the most part, we saw lots of what we call "casual office wear" (slacks/khakis and dress shirts and polos). In fact those that wore Hawaiian shirts and khakis were those that seem to stand out in a crowd...especially with this being a Mediterranean cruise. In the end, no one seemed to really care who was wearing what on smart casual nights. Everyone was there to have a good time.DEBARKATION:Debarkation was quick and painless. A few days prior, we received a questionnaire asking about our transport arrangements. We had arranged an early transfer back to our hotel in Rome so had a 7:15 debarkation time. BTW, we stayed 2 nights at Albergo del Senato post cruise. It's a great hotel! Despite the small rooms, it was a great location. Our room with a view of the Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda was amazing! The buffet breakfast they offer in the morning is also pretty extensive for Rome hotel. The per diem is a little pricey but well worth it for the location and view. X FOR A NEW GENERATION:My general impression of these new class of ships is that if X is trying to market to an new demographic, they are doing the right thing with the Solstice class. It's no doubt that the annoying complaints we heard on the ship from some seasoned X cruisers are due to "changes from the norm". But we were hinted by a few staff that in order to maintain a stronghold in the industry there are some changes in the works as X is working hard to revamp and re-establish their image from a line that caters to baby-boomers and above to a line for a new generation with more expendable income and different needs and expectations. At the same time they still aim to be a cut above the rest. Perhaps X now stands for "X-Generation"...We were so happy with our cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the ship and what it had to offer. This sailing has a diverse itinerary with ports offering a great history lesson on ancient civilizations, the Ottoman empire, and a taste of the Muslim culture. Along with it a splash of some beautiful ports for leisure and relaxation. Solstice brings a fresh new look different from what one would expect from a traditional megaliner. The food was excellent and the service was great. Sure, there were some minor bumps we encountered. But we are all human and with time, things will improve or change. It certainly was the best vacation that we've had to date. To top it off, we've made so many new friends and hope to be in touch with them for years to come. Gotta love those social networking sites. The Solstice class is one that we will stick with for a long time. It has the contemporary elegance that we look for in a vacation experience. We've booked our next cruise on Eclipse for Northern Europe and are looking forward to another great time...and to what new changes X has to offer in 2010. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Background This was our third cruise - first with Celebrity after cruising twice with RCCL. We both turned 50 this year and with children now grown up we seek much of a child free environment on our cruises, lots of daytime relaxation ... Read More
Background This was our third cruise - first with Celebrity after cruising twice with RCCL. We both turned 50 this year and with children now grown up we seek much of a child free environment on our cruises, lots of daytime relaxation and lively nights. I should also say that the ship is more important to us than the ports of call and the main draw on this cruise was being on a new ship with the added benefit of a great itinerary. Pre-cruise We stayed overnight at Hotel Traiano in Civitavecchia which was okay. We discovered her sister Hotel; the Bremante was much closer to the seafront area and would recommend this more if you don't like to walk too much. Transfer to the ship was complimentary and was pretty well booked up so you need to book it on arrival. Boarding Journey to the ship only took about 15 minutes and we were so excited to see the ship for the first time. No queues for check-in, we went right up to the AQ desk and within minutes were on our way through and on board by 12.30pm, very efficient. We got our glass of "champagne" on entry to the ship and made to feel very, very welcome right from the start. We were directed to the Oceanview Cafe as cabins were not going to be ready until around 1pm. Hand wash facilities were in operation with an attendant insisting everyone used the gel. We did hear people moaning during the cruise that they felt they were being treated like children but we observed people sneaking through without using the gel so it was really necessary. I think it is only considerate to your fellow passengers (and yourself) to ensure your hands are clean before using a self-service area. Cabins Just after 1pm an announcement told us cabins were now ready. We were off like a shot anxious to see what our AQ cabin had to offer. We loved it - not as big as the JS we had on Explorer but more than enough room for us and our belongings. I had read so much about this ship that I felt I knew everything about it and it was just as good as I expected, better in fact.... The photos of the cabins really don't do them justice. The multi-head shower in the bathroom was fantastic, our robes really thick and fluffy and the champagne on ice along with our fresh fruit and flowers added a real touch of luxury. We didn't like the iced tea at all and the canapEs were not worth bothering with (we only had them once). Our stateroom attendant Mario was excellent, he was so friendly but in a nice respectful way and so helpful. He got us extra coat hangers right away on request and as we didn't want to drink our champagne that day he put it on ice again later in the cruise and provided 4 champagne glasses for us so we could enjoy it with friends. We found the storage space more than adequate, the flat screen TV with music built in was really good and we found it fairly easy to operate. Our bed was ultra comfortable as were the pillows - our bed was right next to the balcony which I had hoped for. The balcony was not terribly big but well appointed; I liked the wooden decking and the wooden loungers. All in all I loved the cabin; it met all our needs and more. Public areas So much has been said about this ship so I will just focus on my favourites; as virtually everyone has reported, the standard of the furnishings and the range of comfortable seating / loungers all around the ship was beautiful; Relaxation Room - this is a fantastic place to lie and relax, very underused, I was often in on my own. Soft music, lovely scents, fresh juices and herbal teas complimentary, soft beds and nothing in front of you other than an expanse of ocean. Only problem is that spa staff use it as a waiting area for those getting treatments and this causes some disturbance. We did report it in feedback to Celebrity so I hope they change this as it is a real haven of tranquillity. Persian Gardens - I used this area twice, really enjoyable and great views out to sea. Solstice Deck - a great area for sunbathing on a double bed lounger, very comfortable and was never too crowded. Solarium - I LOVED what I call the clamshell beds, there are only around 8 of them so you need to up early to grab one or stay on board while others are ashore (we did on 2 days). They are made for sharing (but even better to have one to yourself) - lots of cushions to prop yourself up, with my i-pod and a book and my clamshell turned to face the sea I was in heaven, no way did it feel like I was on a ship with 3000 other people. I saw the hammocks and really wanted to use them but didn't get the chance, next time I will, they look great but you would need a hand to get on them to retain your dignity!! We spent a lot of time in the Solarium, didn't use the main pool area as this felt more tranquil but there always seemed to be some beds available if we had wanted to. The Lawn - we played bocce on the grass and really enjoyed it, hard to explain but it feels strangely comforting to have grass around on a ship, I personally really liked it and would not like to see it converted to more seating areas as some people have suggested, it adds yet another dimension to this ship. Martini Bar - our favourite hangout with our special order of a double flight of Martinis with our CC friends Audrey and Tim. The bartenders were great fun, very entertaining and friendly, they really looked like they were having a good time. It did get very busy just before the second dining time but that soon cleared; it was a nice lively area, a great place to socialise. Sky Observation lounge - we went to a Karaoke night up there and had a great time, I didn't really appreciate how beautiful the dEcor and furnishings were until I went back up in the daytime to take some photos. Celebrity has definitely gone the extra mile to make everywhere seem so upmarket and luxurious. Sunset Bar - right at the back of the ship this is a great place to sit for an afternoon tipple, again lovely seating and you can go directly up the stairway to get to the open seating area of the oceanview cafe to get a snack whenever. Downside of the sunset bar, smoking is allowed on one side and if when there were smokers there we really noticed the smell, it just seemed to blow everywhere. This is where CC members met for our Sailaway Party, complete with Mardi Gras beads. Ensemble Lounge - our Connexions party was held here and we had a great turnout of around 90 people. This is a very nice, more traditionally appointed area, very high quality but not as appealing to us. We definitely like the contemporary areas more, but the beauty of this ship is there is something and somewhere to suit all tastes. Restaurants Blu - being in AQ this was our appointed dining room and was a real bonus. Food and service were excellent and after going to Tuscan grill one evening we concluded that we preferred Blu. Paulo our waiter was first class and made us feel very special. Once we ordered additional potatoes and steamed veg, he offered them to us each evening. This is a beautiful restaurant, the rose theme and blue colour scheme is gorgeous. The rose wall is even more beautiful than in the pictures I have seen. The restaurant is not too big and this adds to the feeling of a very personal service. Main Dining Room - we went one evening out of curiosity and were accommodated no problem. The food and service were good and we really enjoyed our meal but not as special as Blu. We went to the Mother's Day brunch which was excellent; we had the most delicious fish and chips (real British style) and chocolate fountains with fresh strawberries, yummy. Murano - we had a beautiful Filet Mignon meal here with our sauce cooked at the table, a very nice experience and great service. We still felt that Blu was our favourite restaurant having been here and Tuscan Grill. Oceanview Cafe -we both thought the food here was excellent, lots of choice, we really like going up for afternoon tea around 4.00pm, lots of dainty sandwiches and bite sized cakes. They always had some sugar free deserts as well which felt a bit healthier. We always found we got seats no problem any time we went there. Ports of Call - not going to go into detail on these as my review is more about the ship, favourite port was Naples as we went to Capri, if you get the chance to go there, I highly recommend visiting Villa San Michelle at Anacapri. Istanbul was also very interesting especially our night out to Sultanas belly dancing club, attended by 38 of our CC friends (we organised this privately). Would recommend this if you are staying in port overnight. We asked for a stop off at the Blue Mosque on our way back to ship which they accommodated and what a sight seeing it all lit up at night. Santorini and Mykonos are simply beautiful, what more can I say. Kusadasi, great fun on a Jeep Safari / visit to Ephesus -very hot and dusty but worth it. Stayed on board at Athens as we had been before, great opportunity to get the Solstice deck almost to ourselves. Post Cruise We spent 2 nights at the Albergo del Senato in Rome, next door to the Pantheon. Excellent location where we spent our last night on the roof terrace having a nightcap with Joe and Melissa from CC looking out over Rome. A great end to a wonderful holiday. Overall We had a fantastic cruise; the ship was everything I had hoped for. Our CC group also contributed hugely to a great experience as there were so many friendly people who we met around the ship / in ports who quickly became like old friends. We sail on Equinox in February 2010 and I am so looking forward to sailing AQ again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Embarkation was pretty easy, no stress, or fuss, very quick and soon we were on board and exploring this beautiful lady of the seas. The state room was smaller than I expected, after being informed that Solstice staterooms in Aqua class ... Read More
Embarkation was pretty easy, no stress, or fuss, very quick and soon we were on board and exploring this beautiful lady of the seas. The state room was smaller than I expected, after being informed that Solstice staterooms in Aqua class were much larger than normal. The problem is, the foot of the bed has this rounded portion which has nothing to do with the  comfort of the bed, it just takes up more space. The balcony also was an odd shape, very deep  and being on the corner makes it impossible to stand against the rail as the wind is always too strong. other than that the  bedroom is fine, bed extremely comfortable and nice fluffy pillows.Food.Dining was a nice experience, except, I may have misunderstood about where we would be dining, when I booked Main sitting I expected to be seated in the main dining room and that Blu's was an alternative to Grand Epernay not that Blu's was where we would be seated for all our meals. I must comment on our wait staff in Blu's, Pawal Novak; was exceptional in every way.The food imy opinion was average, breakfast was a disappointment, eggs over cooked, and I preferred after the first day to eat breakfast in the Oceans buffet where there was a huge selection of averything and eggs cooked any way you desired.Shows in the theatreEntertainment was average, the Cruise director did his best to keep things rolling along but sometimes was a bit boring.The ShipIs very big, rarely seemed crowded except around the pool deck, there was never any time when you could go to the pool deck and not find dozens od items left sitting on loungers " keeping" places for people, even though it had been stated that this was not to be done. although I would have liked to use the pool there was no opportunity to do so, unless I wanted to swim during the dinner hours.ComparisonsCompared to RC's Brilliance of the seas, Solstice is much more futuristic, almost minimalistic. the Centrum is a great disappointment, it's blah! when you look down on the centrum from a high floor on Brilliance you see a beautiful  glow of color, and classic elegance, on Solstic you see an odd shape holding a tree?  very dull. Although I know cleanliness was a must while the swine flu scare was going on. and of course at any time where touching food is involved, to be constantly told time and time again by a young crew member the use sanitizing gells provided at the entrance to the Oceans buffet was a bit much,  being treated like naughty children was how my husband put it. when, if we wanted to use a different entrance than the main one we would not have been accosted by the crew memberBars.... The Martini Bar is a MUST  The waiters are full of fun, and very talented when it comes to mixing drinks. the other drinking areas around the ship are all very good. There is plenty to do if you want to party and plenty of nice places to just have a quiet nightcap before bed.Around the ship. At any given time you can always find a spot to have a quiet nap or read a book, and you can also find plenty to keep you busy on sea days, there is a huge amount to do if you want to keep busy. In all Celebrity Solstice is a big handsome modernistic ship. if you want the classical look stick to Royal Caribbean.Ports of call Santorini.Be prepared if you decide to walk down the steep cliff path, it's hard walking covered with Donkey poop and very steep with cobbled street. the ride up or down on a donkey is hazardous to say the least. and the cable car is the best way to go up or down. Santorini is not for the faint at heart, lots of up and down hill walking. you cann rent a cart for half a day for $40. but be warned the roads are full of inexperienced people riding scooters. and there seems to be no rules of the road when driving.Mykonos. pretty much the same as Santorini, very pretty place, lots of tourists nd it's all about getting you to part with you hard earned dollar. so be warnedIstanbull. Huge city, very busy, book a tour with Ekol travel, great guides, reasonable prices. good shopping lots of bargaining to be done to get a good deal on just about everything. wonderful sightseeing to be done. a must on any cruise.Athens. Once again a great place for sightseeing, be prepared for a long hard hike up the hill to the Acropollis but well worth it. make sure you wear comfortable  shoes for the walking around Athens.Capri. I could not believe how busy it was there. I expected a sleepy fishing village not a bustling high priced high fashion center, with millions of people everywhere, I was greatly disapointed. The bus ride up to the village  was littl more then a death ride up a mountain, people are squeezed into a small bus until there is no room to breath and then MORE people are allowed on the bus. not a pleasant experience and the ride up and down the hill is scary.Last time I was in Naples we rented a car, went to Pompii, drove the whole area an had a wonderful day,  and wish we had done the same again.OverallThe cruise was  a good experience we met some wonderful new friends. and had a great time overall. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
I just wanted to drop a few notes on our recent cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This was an 11 night Mediterranean Cruise departing and returning through Rome. Most of what I want to mention are the private tours and transportation but ... Read More
I just wanted to drop a few notes on our recent cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This was an 11 night Mediterranean Cruise departing and returning through Rome. Most of what I want to mention are the private tours and transportation but also a few comments on the Solstice. Previously we have cruised 4 times on Princess. Overally I would say we enjoyed Celebrity as much as Princess although there were a few differences. On Princess we really enjoy the anytime dining which is not available on Celebrity. Overall though it was not a big deal as we enjoyed visiting with the same servers night after night. The one thing we did miss was not having any laundry facilities on board. It would be nice to be able to do some laundry on board with Celebrity but alas there are no washer/dryers. However, all in all if you plan right it is not that big of an issue. We had 2 cabins, 7237 and 7239 which are both balcony. Our teenagers were in one room and we were in the other. Overall the cabins were fine. We only had 1 "issue" which was closet size and positioning. My wife thought the closets were a bit smaller than expected and a little difficult to maneuver around. Overall though we were very happy with our cabins.We had hear quite a bit about the grass area on top of the ship. From our perspective we really liked the grass area. There were activities such as Bocce and Croquet. When you are at home you can play those games, but who really does? We had a lot of fun on the sea days playing a few games like these. By the way, our kids are 17/19 and they too had a lot of fun with these. Alos on top was the Corning Glass Show where they created glass bowls, figures etc. My wife and daughter must have seen about 7 shows, I saw 2. They are very interesting to see. The food was good, service was great, layout of the cruise was spectacular! A mention too about our ship captai,. All I know is he was Greek and named Demetrious. He was the most personable and engaging Captain I have ever heard speak and could probably be a comedian if he wanted. All I can say is if you sail on a ship and he is the Captain dont miss any announcements - they were a gem!A few comments on private tours and transportations.Rome - we used Italy Cab. http://www.italycab.com/  We had a special need in Rome which was going from our hotel in town to the aiport to pick up our son who flew in a couple days after us. In addition to that we used them to pick us up at the port and get us back to the airport. Overall they were excellent. They were on time, professional, courteous and the pricing was very fair. Istanbul - we used Ekol Travel for our private tour. http://www.ekoltravel.com/ We were very happy with their guide, service, delivery, etc. The price included a driver and a guide. I would recommend them.Ephesus (Kusadasi) - again we used Ekol Travel. Once again, excellent. This time I would specifically mention our guides name is Mustafa Orkan Kulak. His direct e mail is orkankulak@hotmail.com All I can say is he was the best guide we had during our trip. Intelligent, Courtous, speaks very good English, Considerate of the time and our needs and just an overall nice person who wants you to enjoy their tour. Athens - we used http://www.athenstaxi.com/ You will see much written about them and the principals name is Paul. They too were excellent. We had on of his sons and orur friends had one of his other sons. Our driver was very professional, courteous, excellent English and just an overall nice person. We enjoyed him very much. You may need a guide at the Acropolis because Athens Taxi is not a licensed guide. If you do get a guide I recommend you ask the guide to give you a 5 minute overview. I say this so you can decide before you pay whether you will like the guide or not and whether their delivery is what you expect. Our guide was not very good. She spoke too fast, felt like she was preaching to us and her delivery left much to be improved on. So, if I do it again, try the guide on before buying.Naples - we used http://www.tourofitaly.com/. Again, these are drivers and not tour guides. We had the father Giovanni. Overall our experience was good. I would use them again. He reommened a guide for us at Pompeii - actually he called him in advance. I dont recall the guides name but we were very happy with him. We did the Pompeii tour early in the morning in jus under 2 hours. If you use Giovanni I would say to ask him to set up a guide for you because he will want to make sure you are happy. The other thing he did which was kind of nice ( we had 6 on the tour) was to provide us 6 bottles of red wine. There was a lot of his advertising on it but we found it was kind of a nice touch. We also visited Santorini and Mykonos. We did not plan anything special there although we did do the Donkey ride to the to the top of the hill to get to town. It is an interesting experience! Overall we had a really nice time on thise cruise and we woudl cruise on Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Celebrity Solstice...Wow!  This ship was fabulous as was the professionalism and friendliness of their staff.  My husband and I had never been on a cruise preferring to fly into our ports of destinations thinking ships would be too ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice...Wow!  This ship was fabulous as was the professionalism and friendliness of their staff.  My husband and I had never been on a cruise preferring to fly into our ports of destinations thinking ships would be too boring.  We were so wrong!  The Solstice had so many dinner, dancing and event options we could barely keep up.  The entertainment was great and we loved the ship's nighttime shows along with many of the educational classes. The ports of call were well chosen and their access to trains, the metro and bus stop were good though one or two were a half mile or so from where the ship docked.  We good walkers so this was fine for us.  W are also very independent liking to be on our own in port not caring for the large crowds on the ship tours.  We did take two ship tours to see what they were like.  The tour to Delos Island we thought terrific but the one to Pompeii was cut short by first stopping an hour and 20 minutes at cameo factory which left us little time in Pompeii.  All in all, we usually walked, rode trains or the metro and otherwise went independent to utilize our days more fully.Turkey was our favorite port of call both in Istanbul and Kusadasi.  Istanbul was an easy access over the foot bridge to the city.  In Kusadasi we hired a private company called, 'ekol travel', and they exceeded our expectations.  We were met promptly at the ship by a professional and friendly gentleman working for ekol travel named Metin.  He had a large sign clearly printed with our name on it which was a relief.  This tour was to Ephesus, Didyma and Miletos and timed to be away from the large crowds which we appreciated not speaking Turkish.  Metin spoke English quite well making it easy to understand him.  This was a relief as our Greek guide had been difficult to understand.  We felt he and his driver Ferit represented 'ekol travel' expertly with a comfortable, luxurious van that was air conditioned to which we are grateful as it was very hot for us.  We come from the north so the cool air was refreshing.  Also, Metin was quite knowledgeable.  We especially loved his information on the sites, the local dieties and habits of these ancient people.  .  Once again we must express our appreciation for the Celebrity Solstice ship and crew.  We heard from many seasoned cruiser onboard that had cruising 10-20 times that it was the best ship they'd been on too.  We can't wait to sign on again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Why do so many cruises start from Rome? Directect air access from Manchester is only available on Jet2 and they start back from Rome in the a.m. which combined with the trek from Civitavecchia to Da Vinci Airport means the check-in time ... Read More
Why do so many cruises start from Rome? Directect air access from Manchester is only available on Jet2 and they start back from Rome in the a.m. which combined with the trek from Civitavecchia to Da Vinci Airport means the check-in time would be hard to guarantee. British Airways don't have direct flights to most of Europe from the North - and we don't want to suffer Heathrow any more so despite a fairly unhappy experience with K.L.M. last year we accepted Celebritys' suggestion of Lufthansa via Munich which turned out fine - all four flights were on time and the luggage was on the carousel. Celebity started well by not only greeting us at Rome but providing trolleys for the luggage - only the most meticulous holiday planner would have brought a Euro for the trolley. As others have reported check-in was astonishingly rapid and our first impression of the ship ---- we were impressed! Our Concierge Class Cabin was not as large as its title implied but was perfectly adequate and well designed. The balcony (because of this cabins' location) seemed larger than most and was well protected from the breeze when at sea. The safety drill was shambolic because of problems with the P.A. system - but for the first time ever we didn't have to wear the Life Jackets. Tables for two are not as rare on Solstice as on most other ships - but 6.15 is too early for dinner, and 8.30 (actually nearer 9.0 p.m.) doesn't leave much time before bed so we look forward to the new open sitting policy (which we enjoyed on Princess). However the Dining Room is the best looking of any ship we have sailed on. We ate here every night except for one visit to the Murano Restaurant - don't know why it has an Italian name because it aims to be French -and it was really good. The steak in the Surf & Turf was incredible, and the lobster was far above the usual cruise ship tasteless offering. We had some excellent meals in the M.D.R.,and the service was first-class. the only downside was the wine - we don't mind paying the ripoff wine markups (much) but it would be nice if the wine was in the same upmarket region as the prices- most of the bottles we tried were of a very poor standard. The Oceanview Cafeteria was well planned,the food was good,and we never had a problem finding a table -top marks to Celebrity again. Entertainment :- the Solo acts - two singers & a violinist were topnotch,the "Broadway"show was O.K. but we have seen better. Where was the mandatory cruise ship comedian? In Michaels Club the Dan Hodge show was well worth a visit - we made several. We have cruised over 25 times and we both rate this as one of the very best - particularly as we got a super deal on the cabin! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We have been on 28 cruises over the past 15 years and recently completed a two week cruise/trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Upon arrival at Leonardo Di Vinci airport ( which is located some 30 to 45 minutes drive from Rome, depending on ... Read More
We have been on 28 cruises over the past 15 years and recently completed a two week cruise/trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Upon arrival at Leonardo Di Vinci airport ( which is located some 30 to 45 minutes drive from Rome, depending on traffic and 1 hour or more from the port) we were met by our hotel shuttle driver. Rather than stay in Rome, we elected to stay one night at the Hotel Bramante, located near our departure port at Civitavecchia. The Hotel Bramante is a nice, moderately priced (E150.00 per night) clean hotel. The beds were really hard but we were only staying one night and after our long flight from the southwestern USA, they were a welcome sight. The cost of the hotel's shuttle service was E140.00 and well worth it. This was far cheaper than a taxi and because we were a group of six adults the actual cost was a mere E47.00 per couple (E23.50 per person) and the shuttle was able to hold all 12 pieces of our luggage as well. Try putting that in a European Taxi! Once we had rested for a few hours we walked into Civitavecchia for dinner. We had pre-arranged to meet (for the first time) a group of up to twenty of our "Cruise Critic" friends at a wonderful ristorante and pizzeria called "Aqua". We were greeted by the owner and escorted to his large outside covered terrace which was a lovely setting. Aqua had a wonderful Italian wine list (we took 2 bottles on-board ship with us), outdoor dining, and an authentic 350 year old wood burning brick oven. If you like thin crust pizza, you will LOVE this pizza. Our cruise aboard Celebrity Solstice was everything a cruise should be and more. The cabins, the food, the service, the entertainment, the spa, and the public areas were all superlative. We stayed in the aqua class which gave us an upgraded shower and upgraded bath products in our cabin. We also had our own private dining room called Blu and unlimited access to the Persian garden, fitness area and relaxation room. Personally we did not feel that this class was really an upgrade from Celebrity's concierge class and we would not pay extra for this class in the future. Our dining room, Blu, had its' own menu (different from the ship's main dining menu) which offered a leaner menu with smaller portions which were sometimes quite exotic. This forced us to try some things that we probably would not have otherwise tried. Although the food was good, it really didn't suit us, especially my 'meat and potatoes" husband. The specialty dining venues were exceptionally good and really worth the extra charge. I would recommend the Silk Harvest and the Tuscan Grill especially. The ship sponsored tours were, with one exception, excellent and really worth the money. The very best were the Messina (Sicily) Wine and Mt. Etna tour (MY08), the Athens & Cape Sounion with lunch tour (PR03), the Best of Epheses tour (KD04) and the Amalfi Drive and Pompeii tour (NP04). we do not recommend the Village of Oia and Santorini Island tour (SO01) as it was just a bus trip to Oia and a gondola ride ticket back down to the port. These things you could do on your own for a lot less. The village of Oia is worth seeing, however. At the end of our cruise we planned an extra day and night in Italy so that we could see Rome. After researching all of our options for hotels in Rome or near the airport, transportation from the port in Civitavecchia to the hotel and transportation to the airport for a 10:00am flight the following day, meals, and sightseeing in Rome we made the best vacation decision we have ever made. We hired a private tour operator, www.rome-tours.org. Filippo (the owner of the company) picked all six of us up in a nice Mercedes van at the dock in Civitavecchia on the morning of our arrival. He then transported us and all of our luggage to our hotel, the Hotel Club Isola Sacra in Fiumicino which is near the airport. This hotel was clean, moderately priced at E132.00 per night which included the price of the shuttle to the airport the next morning and we would recommend it for a short one or two night stay. The beds and pillows were like bricks and the staff was not very helpful or welcoming and only understood English when it suited them. Filippo, our tour guide, waited while we checked in and deposited all of our luggage. At 11:00am we were all on our way to Rome, which is about a 30 to 45 minute drive depending on traffic from our hotel in Fiumicino. Because of a special Roman Tour Operators license that allows small vehicles to enter the city of Rome, Filippo was able to drive us right up to "the entrance" of many of the magnificent sights of Rome. Our guide was both very knowledgeable and very personable and he spoke excellent English. In one day we toured the Colosseum (with no waiting in line for tickets), th Forum, The Trevi Fountain (both in the day and again at night), ate some really good pizza, toured the Pantheon, Navona and St Peter's Square, The villa Borgase Gardens, The Spanish Steps, the highest spot in Rome (which gave you a fabulous view of the entire city), and lastly ate a fabulous 4 course Italian dinner at Cesare's Ristorante before being returned to our hotel in Fiumincino at 10:00pm. To say the very least, our day and night in Rome was the highlight of our entire trip and would you believe??? It only cost E100.00 each plus the cost of our meals and entry tickets. If you are traveling with a small group of 2 to 8 people "rome-tours.org" is absolutely the way to see Rome. They are also an excellent dock to airport or dock to hotel option from Civitavecchia. This is especially true if you are traveling with a small group as most taxi services (if you are able to find any) are much more expensive and can not accommodate more than 3 people per vehicle (plus the driver) and a very small amount of luggage. If you are interested I believe that "rome-tours.org" also offers excursions to other parts of Italy as well. If you want to have a great Eastern Mediterranean cruise this is the one! Read Less
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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