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Sail Date: August 2009
We had a balcony stateroom which was designed and fitted out to perfection. The food was first class and the service from staff was the best we've every had. However, our only 2 complaints about the cruise was lack of entertainment ... Read More
We had a balcony stateroom which was designed and fitted out to perfection. The food was first class and the service from staff was the best we've every had. However, our only 2 complaints about the cruise was lack of entertainment at night for adults. We were second seating for dinner 8.45, however, didn't get out of dining area until 11.00 every night, which had a knock on effect for the entertainment side as music and entertainment stopped between 12.00-1.00. There was however, Quazor night club open until 3.00ish, but if you were over 30 years of age, you were too OLD! Certainly something Solstice should look at. Majority of nights we were in the Sky lounge which was live entertainment and very good at that but as we say, music stopped between 12.00-1.00. From other cruise ships we have been on, the entertainment stopped when majority of people retired to bed. You either had to leave dinner early to see the Theater shows or just completely miss out on it. Second criticism would be the poolside. There were 3 pools, 2 outside and 1 indoor, however, the outdoor pools were full of children and no room for adults. One pool was supposed to be the 'family pool' and the second pool was the adult one, however, no proper signage at poolside to state this. It was however the parents responsibility for same, however, I'm sure if there were proper signages and rules for both adults and children to enjoy, it would make it a better atmosphere all round. It certainly spoilt my time at the poolside and forced my husband and I to go elsewhere which should not be the case. We spent a lot of money on this cruise and to be honest, it shouldn't have happened. Having spoken with the security staff on a number of occasions about the situation, something has to be done regarding this. We certainly wouldn't cruise with Solstice again until the poolside situation be resolved. We found staff to be exceptionally helpful, however, have to say there was a change in attitude on our last night due to preparations for the next cruise. Atlantis (gay cruise) and allegedly the best and busy cruise for this liner. There was a decline in food choice in the Oceanview Cafe and an overall change in staff (too busy getting ready for next cruise)! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise.We stayed overnight in Rome and had a shuttle pick up arranged by a fellow C.C. Embarkation was easy,had lunch and went to cabin.The balcony had a window washing gantry obscuring the left ... Read More
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise.We stayed overnight in Rome and had a shuttle pick up arranged by a fellow C.C. Embarkation was easy,had lunch and went to cabin.The balcony had a window washing gantry obscuring the left hand corner.I had seen from the Cabin Sticky on the forums that the corresponding portside cabin had that problem so I asked my TA to contact Celebrity,I was told no problem so was disapponted when we boarded, we complained and guest relations gave us a comp to Murano,but I will be contacting Celebrity myself. Moaning over,we had a really good time,we ate in the MDR and found the food good with a lot of choice and fortunately hot maybe we were lucky.Another moan coming on! the tables for 2 are too close to each other,they are in effect tables for 4 and that is not what you want if you request a table for 2.Our assigned table 100 was in a poor position [in our opinion, the other couple sharing the 2/4 top table liked it they thought it quiet,We did not like being in the corner of the MDR facing a laundry cupboard and next to a workstation] Luckily our table was changed to 210 a much nicer position nearer the centre of the dining room. I think I've stopped moaning again,we ate in the Murano really good and The Tuscan Grill O.K. Cafe on 5 very good. Oceanview was good too we had no problems and enjoyed the choice. We went to some shows in the Solstice Theatre and enjoyed the singers, musicians and the Ghostlight show.The Solstice show which most people raved over sent us to sleep. We had cocktails in the Martini bar but our favourite venue was Michaels Club nice and quiet with a pianist/singer. We went to a few quizzes and my husband played table tennis.We watched the Hot Glass Show and played Bocce on the Lawn. The pool area was crowded and cramped we preferred the Solarium area. Ports Santorini:We got up early and queued for tender tickets and was on the first tender.We did not have to wait long for a cable car and found the bus station and got the bus to Oia. Mykonos:Took the ship shuttle and walked around the shops. Istanbul:Took the tram and saw the sights independently, very easy. Kusadasi:Went on a private tour booked by a fellow cc and went to Ephesus including the Terrace Houses and Mary's House.Really good. Rhodes:Walked around the Old Town, we have been to Rhodes a few times before. Athens:Took a ship tour to Corinth as we have been to Athens before the canal was interesting but tour overpriced and we did not like the enforced shopping stops. Messina:Another tour with our cc'ers we did the Godfather tour,good fun Naples:Took the bus to the station train to Pompeii then Sorrento back by Hydrofoil to port. We were really sad to leave the ship had an early disembarktion as our shuttle took us back to the airport at 6.30 am.We carried our ow luggage off,simple. We left our luggage at the airport and took the train to Rome for another look around.caught our plane in the evening. We had a great holiday the highs outweighed the lows and we would like to thank everyone at Cruise Critics for the invaluable help given to us when planning the trip and especially to those that arranged shuttles and trips. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
The Solstice is a sophisticated cruising experience. However, it was clearly good for families, too as there were plenty of kids and teenagers who seemed to be having a good time. We had a lovely room with a deck which we used to sit out ... Read More
The Solstice is a sophisticated cruising experience. However, it was clearly good for families, too as there were plenty of kids and teenagers who seemed to be having a good time. We had a lovely room with a deck which we used to sit out and read or to look at the islands as we passed by. There was PLENTY of space. The closet was spacious with enough hangers, there was a dresser, and lots of room over the bed which we didn't even use. Granted, we have traveled a great deal and pack light (on backpack a piece), but even if we had brought one outfit a day, there was plenty of room. The bathroom was clean and the shower was fantastic. There are so many things to do on the ship from art (glass blowing) to entertainment (karaoke, musicals, etc.) to working out (gym and track) to relaxing. We especially loved the "pods" which were cushioned sofas with a retractable cover. We stayed in the solarium which was for 18 and over only. On the sea days, there was a bit of a struggle to find a chair, but I mostly played basketball while my husband went in the hot tub. The staff was incredibally professional and friendly and went out of their way to make us comfortable. The food was delicious.. way too much of it.. and ice cream all day and night! The only negative for us was the constant attempts to get us to go on one of their excursions, so we could frequent their choice places to shop. We went on our own and saved money and had the time to go wherever we wanted to at our own pace. It's very hot during the summer, so we left out early and came back in the early afternoon for a nap. We are not wealthy and felt at times that many people on board were about shopping more than sightseeing, but we found others like ourselves. Celebrity is very concerned about the health of the passengers, so they required that hand sanitizer be used when boarding the ship and entering the dining facilities. All in all, it was an unforgettable experience. It was such beautiful scenery, elegance, and great history. Oh and the food!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
This was our third cruise with Celebrity (my theory is that if you are onto a good thing, stick to it), and in nearly all ways, our faith in the cruise line was rewarded. I have posted my trip journal and photos at: ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Celebrity (my theory is that if you are onto a good thing, stick to it), and in nearly all ways, our faith in the cruise line was rewarded. I have posted my trip journal and photos at: http://ourcruises1.shutterfly.com. The ship was wonderful - as most other posters have said at Cruise Critic -so I won't spend any time describing it, except to say she is big, but uncrowded. There were some times when we felt like we were on a deserted ship which, given there were 2800 people + crew on board, was a pretty significant achievement. FOOD I didn't want to, but I have to agree that the food in the Main Dining Room isn't quite up to the same standard on our last two cruises - not so much the quality, but the range of dishes. I read somewhere that it was as though they were trying to do complicated menus for the masses, and it doesn't work. There was nothing wrong with the food itself, but I had the grilled chicken breast on one night because I could find nothing I liked. On one night, fish dishes dominated. Service here was good, but quick - we never felt rushed, but we didn't have much time to chat - to be expected I guess given the late dinner sitting is always looming. What we were surprised about was how people turned up for dinner all through the dinner period rather than being there on time at 6.15pm. No one ever said anything, but it must have made the staff's life very difficult, particularly since some folks turned up at 7pm or after! Ther was one large family group that always turned up at 7pm, sometimes all of them, sometimes only one or two. The other thing I noticed this time was that the first sitting was never full, and on the last night we were in the MDR, one waiter had no customers at all. I'd not seen this before, but with so many places to eat, and so many children on board, it was undoubtedly easier not to eat in the MDR for some. The first formal night, we didn't see many people dressed up, but the second formal night was much more formal. The OceanView Cafe was fine - I liked the stations and didn't miss the trays at all. There was a good range of food all the time and its quality was good. Pizzas were a favourite, and sushi one day was a hit. The afternoon tea each day at 4pm was popular, and I was a regular - both small sandwiches and rolls and pastries were available. We never had trouble finding a table, although others reported that at peak hours (around 9am), it did get busy. We ate at Bistro on Five one lunchtime and it is worth the $5 cover charge. We tried out all three speciality restaurants and we enjoyed them all. Food and service was excellent in all of them, but our favourite was Silk Harvest. I had read mixed reviews about this restaurant, but we loved it. We celebrated our anniversary in Murano and the food was wonderful, but as others have said, rich. We walked away very, very sated. They were alerted to our anniversary by the waitress in the Ensemble Bar who was fantastic (Ivona) and after eating far too much, we were given a small chocolate cake with two candles on top - which we had to blow out - accompanied by a delightful little speech by the Maitre D'. The service here was fantastic. We at at the Spa Cafe for breakfast one morning, but I have to say there wasn't much there that you couldn't get at the OceanView Cafe so we didn't go back. SERVICE As I mentioned above, the service was fantastic - I heard no complaints this time, as we did on the New Zealand cruise on Millennium last year. Everyone was great, but our favourite was Ivona in the Ensemble Lounge. We headed in there after dinner on the first night to wait for the show, and returned every night for the cruise. She looked after us, checking our bookings in the speciality restaurant and treating us very well. If you see her, say hello to her from Alan and Maree from Australia. THE POOL Neither of us are pool people, but we did spent the morning of the last sea day on the pool deck reading. We had a prime position to watch the battle of the deck chairs - and I now wonder why Celebrity bothers with the 'don't save chairs' policy. Given it is not enforced, they should have a first come, first served policy. People saved chairs, walked away for hours and then returned to claim their spots. In some cases, their chairs had been moved, but there were still 'saved'. There were a couple of vocal complaints, and the pool staff did a great job readjusting and putting chairs in preferred positions. I have to say I just don't get the 'let me bake in the 30 degree heat for four hours' but each to their own. PORTS After Santorini, I decided that this cruise is for 'seeing' not 'doing. On the NZ cruise last year, there were lots of things to do on excursions (jet boat riding, white water rafting, bushwalking), but on this cruise, not so much. This was okay, as we both wanted to see the ruins and historical sites, but walking, being on buses and trains and more walking in the heat was not good fun. We decided never to do a summer cruise again. I've reported on the tours we did in the trip journal so I won't comment again, except to say that I liked Turkey more than I thought I would and was underwhelmed by the level of tourism (touts, souvenir stores) on the Greek islands, although I'm not sure why I expected anything else. The islands are beautiful in terms of scenery and views and cruising is a great way to see them. I'd like to return to Athens again which I thought was an interesting city, but one which needs a lot more time to explore. Ephesus and Delos (Mykonos) were highlights for us. It is a port intensive itinerary, so if we do something like this again, I think we will do half day tours to not tire ourselves out! We had early starts most days, and with the heat, it was tiring - afternoon naps are necessary.:-) The ice water/juice and ice towels provided when re-boarding after excursions were just fantastic, and I hope Celebrity never stops this service. DEMOGRAPHIC ON BOARD We had by far the most children across the broadest age range on this cruise, but universally well behaved from our perspective. It was northern hemisphere summer and school holidays so this was to be expected, but they did not detract from the cruise experience at all. On a couple of times, we encountered children with the onboard children's program staff, and everyone -staff included - looked like they were having a great time. There seemed to be a wide range of age groups as well, and from many countries. SHOWS AND MUSIC We only saw a couple of shows, and since Alan likes singing and I like production, we variously enjoyed or were bored by the shows we did watch. I liked Solstice, the circus show, the most. Live music around the ship was great, particularly the String Quartet. The production quality of the shows is good, not great, but as I've said in other reviews, I don't go on cruises for entertainment, so I don't see this as a make or break element of my cruise experience. CABINS We didn't fill up all the storage space in the cabin or bathroom (there is plenty), and didn't find the safe or the closet too hard to get to. The fittings were five star quality and our cabin stewards were, as always, fantastic. There is also a wide range of movies to watch on the TV in the cabin - both free and pay per view, so we did this on most nights. The quality varied considerably, but it's a great option. The interactive TV service is very good. OVERALL A fantastic cruise, no complaints, still impressed with Celebrity and have booked on a Baltic cruise next year. Five stars all around for me. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
I wanted to write a review so that I may help others planning for their cruise the same way I used CC to help me. First of all I want to say that celebrity's service was outstanding the boat obviously being brand new was beautiful and ... Read More
I wanted to write a review so that I may help others planning for their cruise the same way I used CC to help me. First of all I want to say that celebrity's service was outstanding the boat obviously being brand new was beautiful and the food was fabulous. I know some people have said the food was mediocre but considering they make over 13,000 meals per day I think they do a fabulous job. I never got a cold meal and yes there were a couple items I picked that I thought were just ok, but the other 10 meals were fabulous and the oceanview cafe was great. we also tried the Asian fusion specialty restaurant which was good, but I think the hidden gem is the Bistro on 5. The crepes were outstanding definitely worth the extra $5 cover. Ok first thing getting to port, we took the train it is cheap but I have to say alot of work and not fun, we are a fit couple, we hike, bike, workout everyday and its doable but with the heat in August not fun especially hauling 2 bags each for 17 days away from home. The walk from the station to the port is about 4 blocks. Then there is a free bus that will have your ships name on it to take you to the boat you have to load your own luggage definitely the cheap way to do it. On the way back after the cruise the train was so full that I we had to Stand all the way back. I think the best option is to find someone on here and share a ride from Rome,with a private company not the ships transfers it may cost you $40-$60 more but you are on vacation and I think its worth it. Next thing we booked concierge class it was about $300 more (so I thought I would try it) but I have to say I dont think its worth it, you could use that extra money elsewhere. they give you champagne when you first arrive on the ship so the extra bottle in your room although a nice touch probably not necessary. The boat is fabulous and the prices are very reasonable, I mean if you go to a restaurant you pay $5 for a beer and $7 for a glass of wine so its very comparable. It never seems crowded except for at sea days. Our only complaint was the fact that parents allow their children to go crazy on this boat. We were stuck in between 2 families and were waken several times from the kids slamming doors running around, wrestling because the parents were leaving them unattended in the room which is against celebrity's policies. As the cruise went on kids were running the hallwyas chasing their new friends all night long. I understand this is what kids do, I just dont understand how parents let them run free like a pack of dogs and no considering there are 3000 other people on a boat. Celebrity was great about it, they called the parents which helped for 1 day then it happened again we called guest relations again, they contacted the parents again,we put up with this for 7 days, we couldnt sleep in we couldnt nap it felt like we were in romper room. Finally after the 7th day celebrity was able to move us because someone got off the ship. the next 5 nights were quiet. I just recommend that if you dont want to deal with children on a cruise go when they are in school. Last thing dembarkation, we asked to be in the last group because we were not flying out until the next day. Even so everyone was off the boat by 11. they try to accomodate you based on your flight time, so it is possible to catch a flight the day you get back, we actually pulled into Rome at 3 a.m. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
We are independent travellers who normally rent a home for a week or two and travel around by car on our trips to Europe. When we first started planning this trip, I read a lot of posts on this site to give us a feel for what to expect. ... Read More
We are independent travellers who normally rent a home for a week or two and travel around by car on our trips to Europe. When we first started planning this trip, I read a lot of posts on this site to give us a feel for what to expect. I must say after reading the posts I was a little apprehensive about our choice of vacation. I read complaints about service, food, crowds, you name it! I can honestly say, with few exceptions, we had a nearly perfect experience. Embarkation & Disembarkation We booked our flights independently but purchased airport transfers from Celebrity. The process couldn't have been easier. As soon as we entered the baggage area we saw agents from Celebrity with placards. After we collected our bags, we were whisked to a waiting bus. Check-in at the port was quick and our cabin was ready when we boarded. It took a couple of hours to get our luggage but we had carried on a change of clothes and essential items so that was no big deal. Disembarkation was as easy. We booked a night at the Airport Hilton on our return and our bus driver actually dropped us off at the hotel even though we expected to have to walk from the airport to the hotel. Ship A lot has been written about the beauty of the ship so I won't spend a lot of time rehashing this info. I was surprised about how empty many of the public areas were considering the number of passengers on board. With the exception of the main pool area, the fitness center and the Martini bar, venues were rarely crowded. Even the pool area was manageable. We never had an issue finding a deck chair. The Pool Butlers did a good job of keeping vacated chairs cleared of towels. Our favorite areas of the ship were the Solarium and Persian Gardens relaxation at its best! Stateroom We booked in AquaClass so am not sure if our cabin reflects other cabin classes. I was extremely pleased with the size, layout and comfort of our cabin. The bed was very comfortable, we had more than adequate storage space and the shower panel was the next best thing to having a whirlpool tub. Our balcony was normal sized but perfect for enjoying a glass of wine and room service breakfast. We spent a lot of time on our balcony and will never book a cruise without this option in the future. Aqua Class Eating in Blu and using the Persian Gardens made AquaClass worth the extra cost. We also appreciated the bottled water provided daily. Food We were booked in the early seating in Blu. We loved the food but not the seating time options 6:15 is too early and 8:45 too late. We learned early on that you could come as late as 7:30 and still have plenty of time to dine. Blu is a beautiful setting that feels like a specialty restaurant. It was never more than half full at dinner any night. The food was very good and the portion sizes were perfect. I would have liked to see a few more fish/seafood options. My husband, the carnivore, was in heaven. We also tried all of the specialty restaurants and enjoyed them all. My husband said his meal in Murano was in his top 10 of all time. The only issue I had in any of these restaurants is that we tended to overeat not sure if that was due to our need to "get our money's worth" or the increased portion size. Our favorite option for lunch was the Aqua Spa Cafe it was the perfect interlude to a big breakfast and dinner. The chilled soups were particularly good, especially the pear. I am not a buffet fan so Oceanview Cafe was my least favorite dining option. The variety was great but I thought the food was so-so. We had room service breakfast twice. Our room steward warned us that on early port days, this is a popular option and that we might not get our food as promptly as we wanted. We didn't have this problem, however, the food was luke-warm. I learned the hard way that you need to write down the number of each item next to your order instead of just checking it. The first time we ordered, we got 2 of everything! We also used room service for appetizers twice. They were hot and delicious especially the Asian Teaser. Service This was the one area I was most concerned about based on Cruise Critic feedback. The service we received was great. Our room attendants kept our room spotless and attended to all our requests. Our dining room waitress provided us daily menu suggestions and our wine steward was great at suggesting reasonably priced wine selections based on our personal preferences. One service we really appreciated was having cold towels and water at the port embarkation area. The only glitch we had in service was the cancellation of our Roll Call Connections party. Once notified of the error, Celebrity did everything they could to reinstate it but some members missed the party. Ports I'm not going to go into detail about any of the ports here but can provide a couple of recommendations based on our experience. First, unless you are the type of person who has to see everything and do everything in port, I would recommend that you limit your port visits to a half day. Second, get off the ship as soon as you can to beat the crowds. This is especially important in Santorini where the crowds can overcome the transportation systems. Summary We thoroughly enjoyed our cruising experience and will definitely include cruising to our future vacation alternatives. While it doesn't provide the same level of local cultural immersion, it is a much more relaxing, less stressful way to see the sights. Celebrity was top notch Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
My husband and I are both 30 and this was the first cruise for both of us. We booked a Concierge Class room on the 12th deck (where the Pool and Spa were) and could not have picked a better location. We were at the very front of the ... Read More
My husband and I are both 30 and this was the first cruise for both of us. We booked a Concierge Class room on the 12th deck (where the Pool and Spa were) and could not have picked a better location. We were at the very front of the hallway near the elevators, but never heard any noise from people walking by or the elevators. It was great to be able to walk right out of the room to the pool deck or just up one flight of stairs to the Oceanview Cafe. We signed up for a Cruise Critic "meet & mingle" party which proved to be a huge mistake as there were several people who showed up apparently just to complain. It was only the second day of the cruise and this loud obnoxious woman kept going on and on about all the things that she disliked about the ship. Another fellow was griping about the shore excursions. I'm thinking, you KNEW what they were before you booked the cruise, so if you weren't interested, then why did you pick this ship?!? Anyhow...it was a colossal waste of time, and I wish we hadn't gone. I actually felt sorry for the cruise director because I could tell he was caught off guard being bombarded with complains so early in the trip! Dining - we ate lunch mostly at the Oceanview Cafe. It was fine. Nothing spectacular. We ate breakfast there each day as well - also fine, but nothing to write home about. I enjoyed our dinners in the main dining room. Our waiter was great and the meals were good. Again, nothing over the top...not really as fancy as I was expecting. But not bad, either. We ate several meals at the Bistro on Five and it was excellent! Well worth the $5 per person service charge. Room - As I mentioned, we had a Concierge Class room with a balcony. It was really nice. Plenty of storage for clothing. Bathroom was big (compared to what I was expecting) with a roomy shower. The balcony was great, and I think I will never be able to cruise again without getting a balcony room. The bed was VERY comfy. With Concierge Class we got daily hors d'oeuvres delivered each afternoon. Some were good, some weren't. Staff - I found the staff to be very friendly, although some of the waiters on the pool deck were a little pushy with the drinks. I did feel like they were told to "upsell" as much as possible. Pool - I never got IN the pool (as the outdoor pool was always filled with children), but laid out on the pool deck quite a bit. They definitely could do a better job of monitoring the people who would throw their towel on a chair and then leave it for HOURS. That was frustrating when the chairs would fill up and you couldn't find a place to sit, yet most of the chairs were empty except for a towel or magazine thrown on them. Tenders - SHOW UP EARLY for tickets. My husband went down to get tender boat tickets for us for Santorini and he got there half an hour before they were supposed to start handing them out and there was already a line. The bottom line is that you are only in port for a few hours, so if you don't get on one of the first few tender boats then you are really cutting into your sightseeing time. Shows - Well, the shows starring the Solstice cast were painful to watch. The dancing was so simplistic and the Broadway-style shows were cheesy. Some of the singers were good, but my husband and I couldn't get past the cheesiness. It just all seemed like junior high level performance. The other shows with outside performers were all much more enjoyable. Do not miss the Hot Glass Show or the Martini Bar. Both are extremely fascinating/entertaining! All in all it was a fabulous experience. The ship is just gorgeous and we found ourselves continually in awe the entire week. We would definitely sail Celebrity again! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Our cruise on Celebrity Solstice sailing 27th July 2009 Eastern Mediterranean was truly a wonderful experience! So far we have travelled Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, this was the first time on Celebrity, and it will ... Read More
Our cruise on Celebrity Solstice sailing 27th July 2009 Eastern Mediterranean was truly a wonderful experience! So far we have travelled Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, this was the first time on Celebrity, and it will definitely not be the last. This is quite a lengthy review but you can skip the sections you don't need - it's meant for people like me who like to know a lot about what they will be getting out of their cruise. Embarkation was super easy after the online check-in. We had swim suits in our hand-luggage so we immediately had something to eat in the buffet restaurant and then went for a swim in the pool. The ship is extremely well thought-out and comfortable. The space available is planned intelligently so that it is very easy to find everything and have the maximum space possible. We never experienced crowding anywhere; in fact we were always wondering where all the people go! Not even on the busiest of sea days was it difficult to find a table in the buffet restaurant. There are many nooks and crannies where one can sit and relax - the sofas and armchairs in lounges and public areas are all soooo comfortable! I think this ship has the greatest number and greatest variety of comfortable seating so far. It's amazing. And it is extremely clean. Spotless bed linen, spotless staterooms, public rest-rooms, everywhere! In the restrooms I especially liked the sensor taps so you don't have to touch anything and also the automatic door openers which are really meant for the physically challenged but which actually are more hygienic than grabbing handles. And always hand sanitisation available, all over the ship. And HEARTFELT CONGRATULATIONS for the non-smoking policy - it is of the utmost importance as many people are non-smokers, extending also to the Casino on Celebrity Solstice. I hope that in the near future ALL the ship will be non-smoking. Having half the pool deck where smoking is permitted is too much. I'll start with the stateroom. It was marvellous, the best use of space we ever had. The shower was spacious thanks to the rounded sliding doors. A stroke of genius is the way the double bed has a round bottom edge, again providing more free space. The suitcases all fit under the bed - we were four persons in this Deluxe Ocean View with veranda quad (and believe me our suitcases are large!). There is a lot of storage space, including good-sized cupboards over the double bed besides the wardrobe and drawers, a floor to ceiling cabinet in the bathroom - very useful as three of us are females! Also, the staterooms have a sort of slanting hallway so that one stateroom fits against the wider area of the one next to it, resulting in a wider than usual space next to the bed - one has to see it I expect to understand what I mean; anyway the staterooms are more spacious than usual. A big plus were the veranda doors - both were floor to ceiling (on other ships we had one of them half way) and this gives so much light and space to the stateroom and makes it such a lovely personal space which is pleasant to be in! Towels, pillows and bed sheets were very clean and neat - this is very important to us and it would spoil my holiday to have smelly pillows. And here I would like to mention our stateroom attendants, Annalisa and her assistant Suzzet. They were both always very nice and attentive, always smiling and with some pleasant remark or other; above all they catered for all our needs and very quickly too. The stateroom was kept spic and span and orderly at all times. Thank-you both. Dining. This for us is a highlight, on any cruise, and although we were always very satisfied, I do have to say that on Solstice it was the best we ever had! In the Oceanview Cafe,which is the buffet restaurant, there is always an excellent variety of fresh and very tasty food, cooked appropriately and at the right temperature. The stations are set up with sense and they repeat themselves so there is no queuing. The carvery (we love meat) always had something juicy available and the Mexican, Asian and grill were a treat. And pizza and pasta on the go at virtually all times! The ice-cream is not only the usual soft ice-cream produced by a machine as on other ships, which is very good as well, but also a selection of scoop ice-cream that changes every day. The rocky road ice-cream topped with caramel sauce is to die for! With as many MnM's as you like in a separate bowl...Desserts are wonderfully presented so they tempt you whether you like it or not and they are as delicious as they look indeed! They are not overly sweet as desserts go. (On one ship in the past we had different looking cream cakes and things but they all tasted the same - not here!) And the cookies...can't forget the cookies...lovely cookies! Breakfast here offers delightful pancakes and waffles as well as personalised omelettes - and I do mean personalised as the waiter takes your name down and calls you when it's cooked, the way you like it of course! Plus cereals and fruit etc. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, water and a variety of juices are always available here which is another desirable thing this ship offers. All the crew were always helpful and pleasant, as anywhere on this ship for that matter. Now for the dining room, the Grand Epernay. It is very elegant and classy and the wine tower is the focal point. We had all our dinners here, late seating, as well as some lunches and breakfasts. For lunch and breakfast it was open seating and, as usual, all waiters were efficient and polite and always ready to make conversation after having seen to our needs. For dinner we had our own table and our own waiters, who must surely be the best as I cannot imagine better ones! They were Michael Alcantara from Manila and his assistant Peter. They worked top speed and were always on hand for all we needed - they refilled glasses and bread containers before we ourselves realised they were empty or nearly so! Michael got to know us very well by name and it was a pleasure when we had lunch from the buffet and he was on duty there. He always remembered we wanted fries on the side! He was always very smart and neat too. Michael also let us know of any special events that same evening after dinner or on the following day so that we didn't miss anything - very efficient. Peter was always working unobtrusively making sure we lacked nothing. Both men worked very well together too, and they do their utmost, it's not just a job to be done to get paid for. I must also mention our sommelier, Ioana - she was so very nice and attentive, always smiling, and kept topping up just at the right moment. The drinks waiter was very efficient too and kept bringing drinks (we had the soda package for one of my daughters) without her having to tell him. We did not use speciality restaurants because we think that we would have already paid enough for the food and why pay more when the dining room food and service is excellent?! The food was always excellent and presented beautifully and at the correct temperature, not cold or warm when it should be hot. We loved the surprises in the creative combination of ingredients to make innovative dishes. Steaks were lovely (we love meat as I said before) and cooked exactly as we like them. Soups very tasty, duck delicious...I could go on for ever. Sometimes it was difficult to choose because we wanted to try many of the dishes on the menu! A very good idea was the brunch. We were docking early afternoon so going down from the ship for excursions then. Having lunch before going down would have been too close to breakfast so breakfast and lunch were combined in a sumptuous and spectacular buffet in the dining room - we really enjoyed it! Another sumptuous buffet not to be missed was the chocolate night - again it was very well-organised, being held in the Sky lounge there was plenty of room for everyone as well as plenty of goodies! (On another ship we once had to queue to take photos and were told not to eat anything and then we were made to queue again to have a go at the goodies, so we gave up and left) We had a great deal of attention from the maitre d' in charge of our section, unlike on other ships. He spoke to us on many occasions. He even recognised us when we had breakfast or lunch by open seating, so on different tables, and came over to talk to us. He is Marcel from Croatia and he explained many interesting facts about the dining experience we so enjoyed. My daughter wanted me to mention the HP sauce on Solstice - she loves it but never found it on other ships! The Cafe al Bacio has pastries and desserts that you will not be charged for, even if you take away. The only difference is that for take-away you get them on a napkin while if you stay for coffee (you pay for coffee) you get them on a plate. The Martini bar is a must! We really enjoyed watching the barmen juggling bottles and pouring from a stack of shakers all at once into separate glasses of course! One thing we really appreciated is that no announcements are made in the staterooms - that means you can rest peacefully knowing you won't be woken up all of a sudden. It also means you have to read the daily programme carefully and remember what you want to do. As regards the pool deck, we always found deckchairs in the shade as we wanted. Once, our parents came later than we did, and couldn't find a pair of deckchairs. Four deckchairs in front of us had been unoccupied for the whole of the two hours we had been there, with a book placed on them to keep them free. I told the pool butler that it was unfair as after half an hour left unoccupied deckchairs should be free for someone else. In fact he told us to place the books beneath the deckchairs and make use of them, upholding the policy. Well done, good for him! In fact there are loads of deckchairs and so it should never be a problem. Pool butlers are there to help out and they always did so. Even in the Solarium, which is so relaxing, when a couple brought their small kids and they started splashing about and screaming the pool butler quietly asked them to use the other pools. And rightly so because while most of the time we preferred the noise and bubbly atmosphere of the outdoor pools, on occasion we wanted to doze quietly and relax - the Solarium is meant for that! As regards the ports, everything was fine. We didn't take excursions for Mykonos and Santorini - there is no need. They are lovely holiday islands with cute, narrow, winding streets, all white buildings with bright blue woodwork. Quaint! The excursions we took were well-timed and interesting. We took the two day excursion for Istanbul and the ones for Ephesus and Athens. We liked Ephesus best but that is subjective. The Virgin Mary's house is significant to us as Catholics (the atmosphere of the place) while the Roman ruins are awesome when you think how clever they were so long ago. Take a sunshade with you. Istanbul was ok, the mosques were something new for us but it's a totally different sort of cultural wealth than what we are used to in European Palaces and Cathedrals. We had only one and a half hours in the Grand Bazaar but it was enough. What you must definitely keep in mind anywhere in Turkey is that if you're sure you don't want to buy anything don't show the least interest, don't even sneak a peek in a shop window! You won't get away unless you border on being rude - they have the knack for it. We had very efficient ear-phones in Istanbul and Ephesus but not so in Athens. In Athens there were four cruise ships in port and the tour leaders bungled it up because they all kept stopping to talk to their groups at the same spot, a bottleneck, and so there were hundreds and hundreds of us stuck for an hour in the remorseless heat of the early August sun, on the final steps leading to the Parthenon. That quite spoilt the magic of the site. And when we got back down, hot and utterly parched, we bought the first drinks we could find before boarding the coach and they charged us horribly for them. Naples we had been before so we just walked about the town and did some shopping - very good-priced but trendy clothing for my daughters, 18 and 16 and who can get into the smallest of sizes! As for Celebrity, as usual that special touch, ice cold towels and water on the pier before boarding, so welcome after the heat! It felt so much like getting home after trudging about. Entertainment was fine - there were some very talented performers. We liked the violin player and Mario with his electric guitar. Also the late night comedian. Obviously the best show was the Solstice one, with the acrobats and gymnasts and so on. It was really fantastic! Well done indeed to the Solstice Band, the singers especially the four lead ones and the string quartet who played also elsewhere on the ship. Another plus for us was having Mass said, especially the Saturday evening one; it means a lot for us to dedicate some time to thank the Lord amidst all the fun and merry-making. One last thing; we had prepaid gratuities, like on other cruise lines. However the difference was that not once were tips or gratuities mentioned throughout the cruise, unlike on other cruise ships where they keep on harping about it. The staff all worked hard and willingly and a special mention seems to go a long way. They all deserve it. As the Captain told us (and the comedian quoted with a misplaced accent!) this was the best cruise ever. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Well we started our big family vacation  in Rome a few days before the sailing so that we can show our kids (teenagers ages 18,15, 12 and younger daughter age 8) .the sights, smells and wonders of Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Ponte Sisto ... Read More
Well we started our big family vacation  in Rome a few days before the sailing so that we can show our kids (teenagers ages 18,15, 12 and younger daughter age 8) .the sights, smells and wonders of Rome. We stayed at the Hotel Ponte Sisto which was a great place to stay for an American family . the rooms were modern and very clean  and the front desk personnel all spoke English and were very helpful with taxis and restaurant recommendations. Also, the hotel has a beautiful courtyard in which they serve a lovely breakfast including eggs, bacon, etc..  Onto the cruise...   We took a car service to the port which in retrospect was a good idea because the town of Civitavecchia was a bit confusing and I heard from other people on the boat that some of the car rental agencies were closed for lunch and taxis were not easy to find...The check-in process was smooth and were were able to get on the boat by 12:30 for lunch...the rooms were then ready a short while later. We had two conceirge class rooms on deck 10 which worked out very nicely. We had 3 people in each room, and though i was concerned about space and storage, it all worked out fine as the rooms had good places to store clothes and the bathrooms were terrific also had storage space for toiletries.   The ship is beautiful, every where you go there is an interesting architectural detail and a comfortable chair to sit in. The staff on the ship work very hard and kept al of the public areas very clean. I was impressed by the cleanliness of the Oceanview Cafe ( Buffet dining room) .you did not see empty trays, or glasses for more than 2-3 minutes before they were picked up, and the presentation of all of the food at the buffet was always clean and fresh.   The main dining room had some nice views and again the staff was fantastic. The food was very good and there were always many choices for dinner to please all. We also ate in the Tuscan grill and the Asian restaurant Silk harvest. Once again the service in these two dining rooms was outstanding .Reservations were made for both of these restaurants once we got on the ship with no problems.   My youngest daughter enjoyed the youth programs which like Royal Caribbean was open from 9 am until late at night if you chose to do the slumber party options (10pm-1am )..She mostly went in the afternoons or evenings and was very happy with the staff and the activities. The teens ages 12-18 had a much looser schedule but were very happy...I would encourage teens to go to the get together events the first day so that they feel comfortable with the group in the beginning.   The shows were very good and the music on the ship was impressive. Check out the A cappella group on the boat..Sold Out..they performed in a few of the shows and at various spots around the ship...The band ( headliners?) was also very good.   The cruise director Drew had a great sense of humor and by the end of the trip I would stay at the end of each show just to hear his stories and jokes.   Overall a busy itinerary but great ship! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Just came back from 11 night Eastern Med on Solstice.  My husband and I are both 50 and we were accompanied by out 13 yr old son.  This was a second cruise for all of us, previously having traveled on HAL's Veendam to Western ... Read More
Just came back from 11 night Eastern Med on Solstice.  My husband and I are both 50 and we were accompanied by out 13 yr old son.  This was a second cruise for all of us, previously having traveled on HAL's Veendam to Western Caribbean.  Although we have not cruised extensively, we have traveled pretty extensively, staying and 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts. Solstice exceeded our standards.  Do not believe the negative reviews.  Solstice is a gem in almost every way.  Embarkation went very smoothly.  Our stateroom was lovely with a nice size balcony (which we all thought is an essential for a Med cruise).  Although Celebrity claimed our Concierge Class room slept four, we felt three was the maximum.  Concierge Class was definitely worth the extra money.  We only paid about $200 more for all three people and we considered that to be a bargain.  With the extra pillow top bedding, this bed was one of the best we have ever had in any hotel, including Westin and Four Seasons.  We loved our Frette bath robes instead of the waffle robes in the other staterooms.  I also chose different pillows and everything was delivered to our room with a big smile by our wonderful stateroom attendant Joseph.  Instead of canapes, we had a cheese, fruit and cracker platter delivered to our room each day.  The flowers and fruit platters were refreshed daily as well.  In addition as CC travelers, we received a large blue Celebrity tote that is very similar to those made by Longchamps.  The TV selection was very good as well. The public spaces on Solstice were breathtaking.  From the pools, to the spa to the lobby, to the restaurant wing, Celebrity has really outdone themselves.  I sometimes forgot I was on a ship, only to be reminded by the gorgeous Med views as we were sailing.  Nary a bump or bounce were felt during the whole voyage.  The only way we knew if we had left or arrived at a port was by looking out a window.  That is how smooth the entire voyage was.  Captain Dimitrios and his whole crew do a great job and the Captain has a great sense of humor. While mostly everything was perfect, there were a few things Celebrity can still work on.  Yes it is true you have to get up by 9AM in order to secure a good chaise by the pool, but the ship is filled with so many nooks and crannies of seating area that it didn't really bother me.  What did bother me was the loudness of the music at the pool area.  I found it difficult to read sometimes and would opt for the quiet of my stateroom verandah.  It would be nice if there was more music free time by the pool area. The food was uneven.  Although everything sounded delicious in The Grand Epernay, the execution wasn't always the same.  There were some really good dishes however.  I live in the NYC metro area and am very fussy about food and will say that everything was certainly very edible.  One very pleasant surprise was the wine list.  It was both affordable and varied.  I am not a Chardonnay drinker and like other less common varieties.  I was able to find almost all of the wine wine I like to drink on the wine list.  That really shocked me.  My travel agent gave us a bottle of wine onboard (Chardonnay) and our wine steward very graciously exchanged it for a bottle to my liking.  Service in the MDR was outstanding!  Aker, our waiter, was so terrific that we all wanted to take him home with us.  I really enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the Aqua Spa Cafe.  The lunches especially were all delicious, creative and portioned appropriately.  We also ate at Silk Harvest and Tuscan Grille.  Both were very good and the service was top-notch! As a New Yorker and having seen many Broadway shows, I can say the shows don't compare to the Great WHite Way but they were entertaining enough.  I loved getting exercise on Sea Days on the jogging track.  I used the gym once, but I didn't want to wait so I preferred to walk outside.  The spa was beautiful and I had the best massage I ever had.  I also felt they weren't to hawkish about selling the spa products which I liked. The shopping on the ship was decent.  I loved a cosmetic product at home and was surprised to find the exact same product onboard for the regular price.  The last sea day they even made a "Solstice Grand Bazaar" which sold items from all the ports we visited.   The best part of the cruise was the outstanding itinerary.  Celebrity really has a gem with this one.  Every single port was amazing.  Since I have come back friends and family have asked which port was the best and I can honestly say they all were the best.  We started in Santorini.  I got on line for Tender tickets at about 8 and was able to get on the first tender.  We hired private guides at every port but Mykonos.  We were very glad we did.  In Santorini, we were supposed to have Nick, but someone else showed up.  She did a good enough job.  She did take us to a fabulous fish taverna right on the beach called Galini. We took the donkey up to Fira and I strongly recommend doing that.  My son convinced me to do it and I am glad he did.  The sunset in Santorini was unforgettable. We walked around Mykonos on our own and then went to the town beach.  We took the shuttle to town.  It was $10 per person and you could go back and forth as much as you wanted.  Well worth it.  We loved Mykonos.  It is a charming town with great shopping and tavernas. In Istanbul we had 2 half days and had a great guide named Kagan Kosagan who took us to the major sites and turned everything into a fascinating story.  He ordered street food for us outside the Spice Market nd that was really great.  We also got into an old synagogue through his connections, even though the synagogue was closed to the public.  We did not eat dinner on the ship.  We went to 360 Istanbul, a very trendy and delicious modern fusion restaurant with 360 views.  The restaurant is located on Istiklal Cadessi which is a pedestrian street and is quite the scene on Friday night. Next was Kusadasi, a surprisingly wonderful port.  Great shopping and off course Ephesus.  We had a superb guide named Nahide from Ekol Travel.  She was both warm and extremely knowledgeable.  She directed us to a terrific kebab house after the tour named Oz Urfa.  It is on a side alley off the main pedestrian shopping street.  Go There! In Athens we used Tony from VIP Taxi Servicesalso wonderful.  We saw the Acropolis, Plaka and the very hip Kolonaki area.  We ate at Platanos Taverna in Plaka and it was very good. Our last stop was Naples.  We used Salvatore of Drive Amalfi.  He was wonderful too.  A real gentleman!  He drove us to Pompeii.  We did not hire a private guide there and that was perhaps our only mistake.  Pompeii was overwhelming.  It Turkey, for the price of a tour you get a driver and a tour guide.  Not so in Italy and Greece.  The driver acts as a guide, but cannot guide you through the ancient sites due to the local laws.  Then he took us to Positano.  The beauty of Positano and the whole Amalfi coast blew me away.  Last stop was a mini-tour of Naples and a stop at Pizzeria Brandi where pizza was first invented.  It was beyond delicious.  At the end of the trip, no ATM would give us Euros so Salvatore was nice enough to accept a charge card,even though we were supposed to pay in cash. We used Zelit limo for our transfers to and from the airport.  they worked out well and they were the most reasonable we could find.  Disembarkation literally took 2 minutes.  It was that perfectly executed! All in all the trip of a lifetime.  The combination of the luxury of Solstice and the outstanding ports created a vacation we will never forget! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
The Ship is beautiful, classy and well laid out as mentioned many times before.   The buffet area was a bit of a bun fight on occasion and on sea days the ship was busy but most of the time it never seemed too crowded anywhere ... Read More
The Ship is beautiful, classy and well laid out as mentioned many times before.   The buffet area was a bit of a bun fight on occasion and on sea days the ship was busy but most of the time it never seemed too crowded anywhere and it was easy to enjoy quiet times on much of the ship. The lawn was well kept and we found it great to walk, sit, drink and play on it. Staterooms We had a  c.c room right at the back of the ship, 1676, which was a little tight for 2 plus an untidy 13 year old but very comfortable and well appointed, the bathrooms are spacious with a good large power shower and lots of room for 'stuff' .  One word of warning! The back balconies are great for relaxing (no soot noticed) but one evening we returned to find vomit all over the balcony. My wife lost the urge for our late night drinks al fresco after this. Guest Relations failed miserably when I reported this.   Service On the whole service was very good. Our room attendant Deniz worked unobtrusively and catered to all our wishes. Our waiters in the Grand Eperney were magnificent! Imade and Imade, collectively known as Eminem were so charming and friendly but very professional, remembering our previous requests and likes and ensuring we never had to ask again for them on following mealtimes. The kids and teens were looked after so well that they looked forward to dining there every night. The sommelier, Mihaela, was an absolute peach, professional, charming, knowledgeable and pretty to boot! There were great drinks to be had in a few of the bars, the Martini bar and the Ensemble Lounge in particular were memorable though a martini too many and you wouldn't even remember what day it was. Particularly disappointing were the drinks in the Theatre, we had badly made ones, some with wrong ingredients, some sickly sweet and once so late in coming that the show had finished! don't worry though , the martini bar is just outside and we quickly learned to bring one with us to the shows   Shows/music The Solstice 'cirque style' show was great and the 'Starring you' guest talent competition was obviously a lot of fun because..well it starred us, the guests! Note to Entertainments Officer - I'm not sure if having 2 violin based shows is a good idea, hearing The devil went down to Georgia, Riverdance, and Popera's greatest hits more than once is too much for anybody in a 10 day period. Some great musicians were to be heard around the ship, hats off in particular to cheeky young accapella quartet Soul'd Out with great vocal arrangements of Creedence and Neil Diamond in that 50's do wop style. A swinging piano trio cropped up around the ship, augmented by hip young(ish) vocalist Victor in the Ensemble Lounge coming on like Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet rolled into one - excellent. A mention must be made of the piped music and pool D.J also, it is difficult but I believe Celebrity have got it just right with cool jazz, soul, ballads and R&B, laid back but not too commercial and cheesy as can happen when trying to cater for a large cross section of people. The D.J managed to play contemporary chilled out House music with broad appeal too; as someone who finds most of that 4/4 techno club music mind numbingly dull I enjoyed sizzling out on the deck with the music and sunshine!   Food The buffet was a bit 'samey'  with little imagination or variety but the quality of ingredients were very decent. Coffee was an improvement on last years Sea Princess voyage but still dire! A big plus was the thirst quenching and not too sweet still lemonade available around the clock. We dined on the second sitting and had good, sometimes excellent food most of the time however a couple of times the food was a little tepid served on cold plates, you could see the waiters are aware that there is a service issue from the kitchen side of things, come on chef, sort it out, you know it can be done! The last formal evening's dinner was disappointing with cold unappetizing food and a crap menu. Again, you can see the waiters fire fighting, bringing extra dishes to taste and entertaining the kids and such but bad is bad I'm afraid. Speciality Dining We dined in Murano, the French fine dining restaurant for an extra 30 bucks a head.   I really don't know anywhere you can have a classic and impeccable dining experience like this without blowing a really serious amount of money.   Putting aside the food, which was beautiful - whole Dover sole, properly boned tableside, gorgeous snail tortellini and the best soufflE I've eaten in years, so often these days they are twice baked and taste like flavoured omelette soufflEs now I have stopped ordering them in restaurants. If you really loved something they are happy to bring you another portion, as they are elsewhere but without another 100 bucks on the bill!   Oh yes, putting aside the food, the ambience is refined and elegant and the service is outstanding, both cheeky and professional at the same time, and drinking a favourite wine in the correct glass is a joyful experience.   I predict this place will start to appear in the guides soon though I don't know how Michelin will stretch to sending their inspectors on a cruise!   We also dined at Silk Harvest, the Asian Fusion restaurant that carries a 20 dollar surcharge. It is a great room and dining there is fun with the sharing plates, you can order the whole menu if you like but I wouldn't recommend it! My wife cannot eat rice and they were happy to make a large plate of sashimi for us, Tuna, shrimp, eel, tilapia and salmon. Unfortunately the fish was all a little flaccid and the rest of the food was just so so. I would not return to a restaurant serving this food back home in Blighty,  it was more cheap noodle joint or chop suey house than 'upscale Asian Fusion'      Ports The ports of call on this 10 night cruise were Civitavecchia, Messina, Athens Mykonos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Naples, then  back to Civitavecchia. We really enjoyed the itinerary of this cruise and these were our personal highlights;   Mykonos What a funky little Greek Island, the people were friendly and we spent half a day lounging on the beach in the Town centre and being whipped by the coarse sand and ferocious wind - very nice and cheaper than the exfoliating massage on board. I sneaked off for a chicken giro that I had been pining for.   Kusadasi Another great place to wander around, we planned on Ephesus but it was just too damn hot to be wandering around ruins after touring the furnace that was Athens. The girls went mad in the shops, terrorising the young Turks and giving them a taste of their own medicine 'You have no nice bags, why? These are cheap, not good quality, do you have a cousin' we laughed a lot and I bought a suit as the sea air seemed to have shrunk everything I had brought with me. A Turkish bath and massage was had by all (and a couple more kebabs).   Santorini Wow! Dramatic scenery or what! After a trip up the cable car and a wander around town the 7 of us hired a boat to take us around the sites. I wish we had found Stathis and his boat 'Anemos' earlier. For a couple of euros more per person than the big boats which were choc full of people we had this amazing boat to ourselves with the charming Stathis at the helm. After a trip along the coast and a visit to the Caldera we were lucky enough to get to the hot springs without another soul in sight, we had a half hour lolling in the murky yellow hot water and as we swam back to our boat 3 more big boat loads arrived and about 200 people threw themselves in the sea heading towards us, we felt privileged to have had it to ourselves, a delightful trip You can find Stathis down on the waterfront and his number is 22860 22932 or 6937 199 033. We asked him for a restaurant recommendation and spent the rest of the afternoon eating grilled fish and drinking beer with a view. An outstanding day.   Napoli I overheard someone on board saying they had walked into Naples and found it lacklustre so returned to the ship. Oh dear, they never discovered why Naples was first stop on the itinerary of every Gentleman and Lady's Grand European Tour back in the day, why they say 'see Naples and die' or why it was once the most visited place in Europe after London and Paris. The architecture is magnificent and the views of the bay, well they really are to die for! If you do not want to take the ships afternoon tour which my Italian Aunt did and proclaimed excellent you can take the open topped tourist bus that we took (family ticket 66 euros for 2 adults and 3 kids up to 18), the recorded commentary through headphones is interesting and do make sure you do the coastal route as 4 different routes are available. It was hotter than July and I also learned patience is indeed a virtue.   A fabulous plate of spaghetti vongole in a backstreet trattoria ended a magical day.   For anyone wanting a trip to Herculaneum the local ferry takes 10 minutes and costs 3.5 euros, it departs at 9.10 but give yourself time to buy a ticket from the office right on the dock by the cruise terminal. There are a couple of ferries back in the P.M but you can also get the local train. I never knew it was so close by sea; cheap too; I shall try not to miss it next time!   Conclusion There were 11 of us on the cruise ranging from 7 to 70 and we all enjoyed it and felt well catered for. I would probably not cruise on Solstice again - I now know that I prefer a smaller ship as it is easier to bump into people more than once but I shall look forward to sailing on another smaller class Celebrity ship in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
My wife and I are first time cruisers and although unfamiliar with the terrain (or seascape as the case may be) I will venture several opinions in this review that I hope will be helpful to any cruisers - newbie and seasoned alike.  ... Read More
My wife and I are first time cruisers and although unfamiliar with the terrain (or seascape as the case may be) I will venture several opinions in this review that I hope will be helpful to any cruisers - newbie and seasoned alike.  Firstly the Celebrity Solstice is a remarkably sophisticated ship with an adult flavor (no rockwalls - no water slides) and a staff that caters to your every need and want.  It makes you think of what elegant cruising may have been like back in the days of regular transatlantic crossings.   To begin, we arrived at Rome FCO airport on the 16th of July ex NYC JFK via Alitalia airlines.  Those who may have followed my luggage concerns on CruiseCritic over Alitalia's 11 lb carry-on restrictions need not worry to much as passengers on our ½ full evening flight going and full early afternoon flight returning to NYC ex Rome FCO were not scrutinized much and I could have walked on with a steamer trunk going to Rome and no one would have noticed.  Just kidding of course but with that said I would not take the chance as one lady was stopped at boarding in Rome with a piece over 11 lbs.  But everybody seemed to have large bulky luggage boarding that I am sure weighed well over 11 lbs.  I still would follow our plan and check 3 pieces thru and have 2 carry-ons pp placing one smaller piece, with critical essentials you need to board with, inside the larger piece (also filled around with personal items around the edges) plus the second smaller second carry-on you are allowed.  If stopped at boarding than just pull out the smaller piece from the larger carry-on and redistribute your belongings giving the larger piece now to the attendant to check thru as your 4th allowable piece of checked luggage.  Now you both walk on with your 2 allowable and legal pieces of carry-on luggage.  The weight and size restrictions have penalties that are high, starting at 50 Euros and going up as high as  150 Euros for a third piece of checked luggage pp with weight and size penalties applying on top of that!  I fretted many a night over this I don't see an alternative plan with Alitalia accept for booking with another Airline whose weight carry-on restrictions can be as high as 30 lbs!  I am not so much a seasoned air passenger but I see I may have to go back to school for another degree - this one on the science of airline luggage requirements or how to beat the system at their own game.  Both flights were smooth, fast and my luggage arrived with me so I am not going to complain...for now. My wife and I, along with a friend we met on CC and arranged to meet at FCO, transferred to the port city of Civitavecchia and stayed at the Hotel Bramante.  Please remember that the 45 minute transfer will run 110-140 Euros depending on the transfer company you may use so get on the CC boards early to arrange to share your ride if you are so inclined.  The Hotel Bramante is a wonderful boutique style hotel - modern and clean - with a full breakfast and within walking distance of several beaches and the port promenade which caters to a lively night time crowd mingling between many nicely decorated restaurants.  The hotel staff was kind and attentive and the owner even gave us a lift to our restaurant engagement at the port.  We dined with several of our new cruise mates and then we strolled the promenade, stopped for some gelato, people watched all those that came out at 10 pm to be seen, strolled out on a walkway jetty to catch the cool summer nighttime breeze off the Mediterranean Sea and on the way back to the promenade eyed a Salsa dance party/instruction on a make shift dance floor on the beach!  Very cool.   We boarded the Solstice the next day about 1 pm.  The Hotel Bramante offers a free transfer (about 10 minutes away) to dockside.  Checking in was a breeze.  We got to our room and our luggage followed about an hour later.  BTW, I did not take any notes or keep a journal here so I am doing all of this by memory.  Keeping a vacation journal is not a bad idea.  My good friends, SandG, whom we met on the CC boards and later teamed up with on several private tours, just wrote me to say how from the journals that S keeps, they visited the same pensions in Switzerland a few years ago that they had stayed at on their honeymoon some years earlier! Now that is record keeping.  As this cruise overall was wonderful and very memorable it should not be difficult to recall the highlights and I will try my best to be informative.  We were fortunate enough to secure a cabin in Aqua Class and although the difference in Aqua Class and most of the other veranda cabins are negligible there does exist several difference that are noticeable.  Room size, veranda and bathrooms are the same size.  The main differences are that in Aqua Class you get a fresh fruit plate each day, a plate of several tiny finger food selections that we canceled, the towels which are very fluffy and luxurious, the bathrobes which are waffled and thick and the shower has a large diameter rainfall shower head with 5 water jets along a vertical unit that runs parallel to your body and pulsates water at your body from knee to chest.  I didn't think those jets would make much of an impact but I have to admit I became attached to my showering regiment after the first time.  The fruit was nice and you can take them out with you on port excursions but you can easily go up to the Ocean View Cafe and accomplish the same result.  Two bottles of water are supplied each day but I understand that also occurs at the other cabin classes.  Other than that there is not much difference.  If you are as lucky as we were and found the cabin price drop to $100 difference between Concierge Class and Aqua Class then why not go for it.  Do check on line with CelebrityCruise.com every day for price fluctuations.  Our good friends, JSpirit and SandG, whom we met on-line with CruiseCritic, looked out for us and got us considerable savings several times by just checking and being aware.  I learned a good lesson on that front.  If I told you I saved $2000 would you believe me?  Believe it.  There are other amenities advertised with Aqua Class such as priority tender boarding and disembarking but that never was an issue for us. Some how the cabin staff knew exactly when you would be stepping out of you cabin for a spell and when you returned your bed was made and your personal things put in a neat and orderly arrangement for your convenience.  I will say that the mini bar was nicely stocked and reasonably priced...2,50 E for a coke if I am not mistaken.  If you are like me and do not drink alcohol you may do as I did not and ask for the alcohol in the mini bar to be removed to make more room in the mini bar for other items.  Sometimes I just end up doing things the hard way and it drives my wife crazy.  Your bed is also turned down each night while you are out of the cabin with chocolates left out on the bed for most class cabins. If there are just two of you and you have global capabilities on your cell phones you may want to consider purchasing an extra wide spaced 4 outlet 3 prong power strip to accommodate chargers and the like.  Monster makes one that I found to work well so that you can charge 2 cell phones, a digital camera and camcorder at the same time easily.  You can pick it up at Radio Shack for less than $10!  A few of us in our on-line "cruise crew" group got the power strip and it worked well. There is plenty of storage space in the cabins.  Besides closet and drawer space, there is an above the bed cabinet storage area and under the bed storage.  In the bathroom there are 5-6 storage shelves to accommodate most of your sundries.  I have heard some people complain about the closet space.  I can't quite understand that.  No one should do what I did, as a newbie, anyway, and over pack.  I had to have one suitcase open as storage due to my own over indulgence.  It was ok but no need to over do it like that again   Normally speaking the closet is more than adequate to accommodate anyone's average 10 day stay at sea.  After all, you are not relocating to Las Vegas like I was pretending to do, as my DW insisted.  The tv has a good selection of movies, news and comedy.  My only complaint is I wish the remote control and tv were more responsive.  Channel changing and volume are slow but I think that is inherent either in the signal or the electronics of an LCD tv.  I find the same thing on my big screen at home.  Sometimes I miss my big box JVC TV set as I could fly around the channels with my remote.  Now let's look at the dining.  For breakfast you have several choices.  Room service is fantastic.  You can call at 7 AM and have you breakfast delivered to your room, with everything you requested, by 7:30 AM and dining on your veranda by 7:35 AM with the Mediterranean Sea racing by under your feet or inside the caldera at Santorini facing the cliff town of Fira or viewing the walled Old City at Rhodes harbor.  Either way it is a wonderful way to start the day. Or you can breakfast at the Ocean View cafe with a huge selection of items to choose from.  Or if you are In Aqua Class you can breakfast off a complete menu in the Blu Restaurant with waiter service from 7:30 AM to 9 AM.  There are also smaller venue cafes around the ship from which to choose a light breakfast. Lunch is self serve at the Ocean View Cafe or at the other smaller venues like the Bistro at 5 with waiter service or the pool side cafes.  Crepes to steak are available with much to choose from in between. Dinner is a very special experience as you can imagine.  Formal days are normally the 2 sea days on a 10 day cruise...day 3 and day 9.  But that is always at the discretion of the Ships Captain/Master.  Formal wear is tux/suit for men and cocktail dress, gown or dressy pant suit for ladies.  I will try and make this brief by only saying that each of the 5 major restaurants: the MDR - open to all; Tuscan (Italian), Morano (French) and Silk Harvest (Asian)- each from $20 -30 pp; and Blu - similar to MDR with a varied cuisine but only available to Aqua Class passengers, are all wonderful dining experiences in their own right.  All restaurants are all you can eat.  The dining service in each is impeccable.  Your courses are delivered promptly, the waiter staff is very friendly and remembers your particular likes and requirements readily, the maitre d' and ass't maitre d' make a point of coming to your table to chat with you each evening and seconds are always available for every course.  If you want try the fish and pasta main courses at the same time, than you may.  And this all holds true for each of the 5 restaurants I mentioned above.  I will have to leave the wine review for someone else as I don't drink alcohol but if my 6th sense is as sharp as I would hope I would venture to guess that whatever your grape requirement may be I am pretty sure that your tastes can be accommodated.  The MDR has a 3 story high wine silo rising off the main floor in the middle of the MDR!  Also each of the 5 main restaurants has their own dedicated kitchen.  You can read about the other smaller dining venues in on-line reviews thru google.  Bistro At 5, that has a $5 cover charge for all you can eat, is also a fine dining facility for light fare including delicious crepes.  I have said before here on CC that I do not run in fine dining circles very often in NYC where I live.  I have dined with clients (before I started teaching mathematics I worked in the marketing departments of several Steamship lines including Italian Lines) over the years at such wonderful eateries as Peter Luger Steakhouse in my adopted borough of Brooklyn (I was born and raised in Manhattan), Windows On The World at the late 1WTC, the old Quilted Giraffe, 21 Club, and One If By Land, arguably the most romantic restaurant in NYC.  I would feel comfortable with going out on a limb by saying any of the main restaurants on the Solstice, even the huge MDR, could rival the best NYC restaurants in cuisine and service.  Anybody that thinks differently reminds me of the girls my mother would warn me about...the clothes label "blanks".  To such people only popularity, such as to see and be seen, becomes the most meaningful reason to dine, regardless of the service or cuisine.  Don't let that fool you.  These restaurants on the Solstice are top notch.  But which food critic in their right mind would dare rate a cruise ship restaurant highly.  They would be laughed off the planet.  Oh well...let it be our secret then.  I guess I did have a lot to say about dining. Unfortunately I cannot comment about much of the entertainment.  I had a late dining seating (8:45PM) and coming off land tours at 5PM often had my wife and I missing the early show due to the exhaustion of 110 degree weather at Ephesus for example (don't get me wrong, I am not complaining.  It just is what it is) and then dining through the late show.  I did catch 2 shows in the Solstice theatre.  One was a series of well choreographed and adeptly sung past and present Broadway show tunes (I am sorry, I do not remember the show title) in a montage format that would rival any Off Broadway production.  Being from Manhattan I have some exposure to that level of entertainment.  And the other is a show called Pulse that is a Cirque du Soleil type show.  I have seen CDS in Montreal and Las Vegas several times and they are the standard.  I also have seen the CDS show that comes to NYC's Randalls Island each spring and I would say that the Solstice Pulse show is better than the NYC CDS show.  Those performers, on the Solstice multi million dollar techno stage, are truly marvelous athletes and entertainers and could easily step into any real CDS performance, I am sure. I have heard that people did miss the old tried and true hypnotist on many cruise ships.  A fun thing to experience I am sure.  And also some had commented that they would have liked to see a more risquE adult type comedian at a late show.  No matter what your moral bent some of those jokes can be downright side splitting. Finally, I will briefly (that is plan at least) comment on the ports visited on this 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise.  Most of the ports have been reviewed extensively on CC and other internet sites.  I will only attempt to be informative and helpful in my commentary here.  In Sicily, Taormina is a must see unless you have family there to visit with.  Syracusa and Catania are a bit out of reach for a short day tour and Palermo is not really a worthwhile touristy spot. I give myself permission to say that as I am part Sicilian.  Mt. Etna, near Taormina, is a point of interest if volcanoes are your thing.  So opposite of what Horace Greely wrote, "Go east young man". Athens - The Athenians are wonderful friendly and generous people.  The Acropolis is MUST.  It is the cradle of western civilization and awe inspiring. The Plaka shopping and dining district is a pleasant diversion.  If time permits the Nat'l Archeological Museum is wonderful and just as important is the brand new Archeological Museum  open last month just outside the Acropolis/Plaka area.  The downside is that Athens needs a face lift.  Everybody comments on that and you will see it for yourself.  It is worn and graffiti ridden and the housing is box like gray units reminding you of a failed attempt at socialism.  It is a shame.  Such a wonderfully historic venue filed with lovely, vibrant and fun loving people living in such a drab surroundings.  Now let us go to Rhodes and compare the differences. Rhodes - As soon as you step off the ship into Old Town and travel 20-30 km inland you noticed several things immediately starting at Old Town and continuing out to the outskirts of town.  Everywhere the greenery and flora (EVERYWHERE!) is freshly cut and manicured.  The trees and bushes are all trimmed nicely.  The streets are immaculately clean.  They must have little gremlins that come out at night to landscape the island!  This is an inviting island that wants you visiting it again and again. Everywhere that you look invites you to come back again.  The houses and apartment buildings are colorful, clean and modern looking - all with an inviting character.  It is probably the most pleasant place to roam freely on this cruise....taking nothing away from Santorini and Mykonos.  But when you think about Rhodes and the turmoil it has gone through over the ages and being conquered over and over again by all of the cultures surrounding it on the Mediterranean perimeter, you have to admire the resiliency of these people who continue to want to live well and with pride.  It is wonderful to appreciate.  I think it is a remarkable culture there that I really cannot begin to understand.  I will leave it to all the historians out there that can maybe explain it better to me here on CC. Kusadasi - My friend recently came back from a single masted ship cruise along the Turkish coast and when I mentioned we would be docking in Kusadasi he made a face and said that it was a rundown, dirty port city in turkey.  I disagree and he was never in Kusadasi.   I think he was reading a 20 yr old travel book.  If you YouTube search Kusadasi you will see for yourself it is an area that has made itself over to be inviting to foreign tourists.  We drove through it and found Kusadasi to be clean, surprisingly modern with well manicured greenery and a comfortable sandy beach front with new restaurants and the obligatory Turkish bazaar. You want a bargain...it could be found here.  But be prepared to haggle.  Hang in there.  The Turks are good salesmen, aggressive salesmen and hard bargainers. But once you crack the veneer you open the door to some fantastic bargains.  Don't be afraid to walk away.  You may or may not get your price but around the corner is the same item you wanted originally and you start the bidding all over again.  Make it a game, don't be pressured and you can't go wrong....even if you have to walk away.  Sometimes you win by doing just that. Ephesus - An amazing ancient site with well preserved ruins including the 3 rd largest library in the ancient world outside of Alexandria and Constantinople.  There is plenty to see here.  Before September bring plenty of water with you.  It was 110 degrees when I was there last week and the heat was tough on some people.  My wife and I are both 50+ and we both made it through so I am sure most of you can also.  Just be prepared with water, light clothing, good walking shoes and a towel to wipe your face of perspiration.  Search YouTube for Ephesus and see for yourself the wonders of these ruins.  And don't forget to catch YT's Elton John 2001 concert at the Great Amphitheatre ruins at Ephesus - especially "Honky Cat" with a great 5 minute piano solo. Mykonos/Santorini - I want to lump these two beautiful islands together even though they have 2 very different landscapes.  I am sure you know a great deal about both places already but if you want to reinvigorate your knowledge of both places please do a search on YT again and you will see all you need to know about these two magnificent stops on this cruise.  I will say that there is an internet site, www.Cruisett.com/index.php, that will give you a listing of all the ships that will be in any given port when the Solstice is anchored there and the times of each ship's arrival and departure at that port.  This can be very valuable info for you especially in Santorini which is the only tendered port on this itinerary. The number of ships in any port will affect all the transportation networks of that port and will affect you debarkation times and return plans to the ship.  But a tendered port you need to pay special attention to.  Let me share my experience in Santorini with you.        The Solstice was the only ship in Santorini harbor that day.  NP, right? Wrong.  We left the ship about 9:30 AM, a leisurely time to disembark, and took a public bus to Kamari beach (bring your beach water shoes there - it is very pebbly and the stone are very hot.  The water, although beautiful, is rocky along the bottom by the shore.  At 2 PM we headed to Oia by bus for lunch and arrived at King Neptune's Restaurant overlooking the caldera...a gorgeous view, very good service and fine food.  We lingered knowing there was a 4:05 and 4.35 bus to return us to Fira for the cable car ride back down to the last tender, if need be, at 5:30PM.  Hey...if I miss the 4:05 and get nervous I have the 4:35 bus or just call a taxi, right?  Just like midtown Manhattan!  Well, we miss the 4:05 and I start to worry.  I am 20 minutes away from Fira and a 15 minute walk from the bus station to the cable cars at Fira.  At Oia's bus stop there are no taxi's to be found or radioed for.  One taxi comes at 4:25 and a family grabs it.  We wait. I know there are only about 30 taxis on Mykonos so Santorini is probably nearly as bad.  The bus comes promptly at 4:35 but wait a minute...the driver has to make an unscheduled stop and will be back in 10 minutes.  15 minutes later he arrives and we are on our way at 4:50PM.  The bus is making stops along the way and I am frantic so I place a call to Celebrity Cruises in Florida!  I know some of you are laughing now but what does one do when you are on the bus and your ship is ready to leave!  I want Celebrity to call the ship and tell them of my plight so they can hold the ship (even I am laughing now).  They can't do that.  As far as I know the only person that can do that is the port Captain whose phone number is listed on Celebrity's daily scheduling brochure...EXCEPT FOR SANTORINI!  Are you reading this Celebrity?  As I plead with them on the phone the bus pulls into the Fira bus station at 5:15PM.  Gotta go.  I hang up and jump off the bus with the Mrs.  I have 15 minutes to make the 15 minute walk to the cable car and my wife is reeling from the heat.  She can't walk anymore.  A TAXI!! happens by and we jump in - as if an angel was at the dispatcher's desk.  He leaves us a block from the cable car station as automobiles can't fit down that street.  We jump out and my wife hobbles with my help to the cable car and we fall into it.  Another couple is in the gondola ahead of us are also trying to get back to the ship and they are yelling at the cable operator to start the cable cars down!  It is now 5:25 PM and the cars start to lumber down the side of the caldera.  We all jump out at the bottom and there no tender to be seen!  But there is a small obscure boat with two Solstice crew members waiting for us and 4 other people whom, promptly show up a minute later...it is now 5:35 PM and by walkie talkie it is verified that all 2800 passenger are now accounted for...we being the last 6 to leave on the under size tender used to deliver the dry goods to the ship.  We made it.  If there was one more ship in that harbor and another 2000 people roaming the island I would be writing you this review from a chaotic and sweaty Athens airport trying to arrange an overpriced flight to Naples to catch the ship and me cussing a blue streak!  So please, do NOT make my mistake and give yourself plenty of time...especially if there are other ships in port...tender or not. Naples / Amalfi Coast / Pompeii - Pick ur pleasure.  Sorrento, Capri, Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, Pompeii or Naples.  We did mostly private tours on this cruise with people we befriended on Cruise Critic early in our planning.  Early February we started emailing each other...JSpirit, SandG, IHateClaims and Teechor...they were our core group at the beginning.  I would advise any of you reading this to hook up as early as possible with a group to tour with privately and split the expenses if that is the way you want to tour.  It gets hectic on the boards as time approaches for departure.  In this port we chose to take the ships tour to Sorrento (we made it back to Sorrento as the song promises) and Pompeii, which we missed on our last trip to Italy.  After our hair-raising experience on Santorini a few days before, you can imagine my relief just to lay back and relax knowing a ship's tour will not leave a bus full of passengers behind if it can help it.  Again, Pompeii...very hot...bring water!  Nearly all Naples tours are all day to get to these places of interest.  If you have never been to the towns mentioned above on the Amalfi Coast then that should be a priority unless you prefer the sights of the ill plagued excavated city of Pompeii.  It is quite remarkable to see it for yourself.  I think there may be a ships tour that includes both the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii.  I had friends that did a private tour along the Amalfi Coast and came back by ferry from Sorrento to Naples.  That sounds delightful and they said that they had a great time. I don't know what else to relate so I just want to tell you that I have not met anybody yet that has had a bad experience on this itinerary for the Solstice.  Everybody has had glowing comments on their experiences on the Solstice and its ports of call on this itinerary.  It was a fabulous experience and for first time cruisers as are I and my wife, we are just stunned at the quality of service, wonderful dining experiences and fun activities on the Celebrity Solstice as well the wonderful ports of call and their historical significance.  BTW, there is this little town called ROME that you will happen to leave from and return to.  Be sure to give yourself some time at the front end or back end of your cruise itinerary to enjoy the sights and Italian cuisine of Rome. One quick final anecdote.  I am visiting Rome several years back and the control addict that I am, I have tickets for everywhere (rail, musuems and venues) and reservations for opera and restaurants, in my hand, and all made by myself on the interne for an 18 days backpacking journey with my wife from Lake Cuomo, thru Venice to The Amalfi Coast and much in between.  I have my tickets for the Rome Coliseum one afternoon and as we approach the gates of the massive structure the guards start to close and lock the old venue up!  I am waving my tickets screaming that this can't be.  "Oh yes it be sir", they told me. "Big soccer game today and everybody is going home to watch it on tv, goodbye Sir".  You have got to love the Italians for their passion for life.  Well, it's like the world series of soccer in Italy that day...the national championship game, winner take all....Milan vs Rome.  Rome wins...the city goes crazy and parties all night.  The wife and I have a blast that night partying with the winning side but I missed my chance at visiting the Coliseum.  Now I got to come back again to Rome and I didn't waste my chance this time to visit the Coliseum.  We did a full guided tour.  I thought maybe if I miss it again...no big deal.  But entering and wandering through and around the interior of the Coliseum only affirms the grandeur that once was Rome and western Civilization.  I think it is the single most impressive ancient structure on this entire cruise.  If you can, don't miss visiting the Coliseum. I am not the best proof reader so please excuse any words out of place. Finally I would like to mention my cruise crew again.  Fine cuisine, ancient ruins and ship amenities are fine but the lasting impression and the intangible that always makes the difference to a successful journey are the relationships that you forge along the way.  There would be a definite hole in my entire experience on this cruise if it weren't for the friendships made before, during and after our cruise with our new friends of the "Cruise Crew" mentioned above, all wonderfully thoughtful and generous people, plus those that we came to call part of our "crew" later on....Kevin and Susan, Loretta, Lisa and Dale and their kids, along with SandG's daughter Caity, Joe and Maria and Pam and Sandy.  What an awesome group.  Thanx again to all of you for making this first time cruise experience so memorable for Susan and I.  And for the rest of you waiting your time to depart remember the words of my main cruise man, Sam....plan hard then sit back and relax because it's gonna be a hoot!  Enjoy. Ciao. GeoBill99 and PMSusan99 Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Let me start by saying how great this site is.  It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions!  I  have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were ... Read More
Let me start by saying how great this site is.  It was a huge help to us in planning our port days/shore excursions!  I  have never written a travel review but felt if I could pass on any helpful tips to someone I should try! We were first time cruisers and sailed the Med.on an 11 day cruise on July 6th. What a Beautiful Ship!  Everyone that we talked to that has cruised in the past told us this was their favorite ship and although I have no other cruising experience I have got to believe this is true.  It is very clean and modern and although It was completely booked you never felt crowded.We are a couple in our late 30's-40 and we traveled with our 11 yr. old son. One thing that I had a difficult time finding on this site were reviews that matched our age group, especially reviews from people traveling with children.  I was nervous that my son would not have many other kids to interact with but no need to worry.  There were many kids on the boat (One parent said 500, I am sure during the school year this number drops.) There were kids of all ages on the boat and my son had a wonderful time.  They have a great kids program with organized daily activities that my son enjoyed participating in on sea days. Scavenger hunts, art projects, bingo, video games, foosh ball, etc.   (They have organized activities daily but he did not participate on port days.)  There are so many things to do on the ship! There is something for every age.  We enjoyed the pool,(on sea days you do need to be there early for chairs...they go FAST) health club, and the glass show.  Try to get to at least one glass show, I thought it was so relaxing to watch...the girls are so talented and do such a nice job describing the art of glass blowing.  We thought the food was good.  We loved the crepe place (bistro on five) worth the $5.00 charge and we also loved Silk Harvest.  This was the only specialty restaraunt we ate at and were very glad we did.  The food and service were great!  We went to three shows on the cruise and enjoyed each one.  They do a great job with the shows, there is a woman who impersonates other singers that we really enjoyed...try not to miss her...very funny and talented!PORTSThis is the portion of cruise reviews that I was always most interested so I will try to be detailed and pass on useful information!Civitavechia:  We arrived at 12:00 and got right on the ship.  Took a tour and had lunch.  We stayed in Rome two days prior at the Caesar house.  Nice accomadations close to the Colloseum but a bit expessive.  We stayed at the hotel Canada Best Western two days after the cruise and this was very nice too but much less money.  We met three other couples at our hotel who were also going on the cruise.  We shared a van to the ship at a cost of 50e per couple, arranged by the hotel.Santoroni: I got up early and went down to get tender tickets.(7:30a.m.) just a few other people were down there but within half an hour people were lining up quickly, we were able to get off at 2:00. What a  Beautiful island!  We rented a car on our own and were so happy we did.  We took the cable car into Fira and rented a car from Motor Inn.  The man who helped us was so nice and gave us a map and suggestions on beaches. We spent a few hours at a beautiful beach enjoying the perfect water and black lava rock beach (our 1st)  the water is clear and so blue, it was so peaceful.  We the drove to Oia...do not miss this area...it is gorgeous!  A good place for a nice walk, cute shops and restaraunts and great picture taking.  We drove back to Fira, dropped off the car and got in the line for the cable car (allow plenty of time for this.)  A great peaceful day.Mykonos: Another beautiful island and another rental car!  Once again we were so happy we rented a car.  We took the bus transfer into town and tried to find the car rental place, we ended up taking a taxi to the rental place and did not know that they (the car rental place)  would have had a car waiting for us at the port.  If you think you want to rent a car book it in advance and have it waiting.  It will save you time and the expense of not needing the bus transfer.  We rented a jeep from Kosmos.  The man who helped us was fantastic, very accomadating with suggestions and when we dropped off the jeep they drove us to the port so we did not need to use the bus transfer.  We walked around Mykonos and then drove down some narrow winding roads to Super Paradise! WOW!  This place is great...I could spend a few days there.  Beach chairs/umbrellas for rent with an outdoor restaraunt/bar.  We loved this beach!  We wished we had started for the beach earlier and spent more time here.Istanbul:  What a unique city.  We decided to do this on our own and had no problems.  The only time we needed Lira was for subway tokens, so be prepared with a bit of Lira before you purchase tokens, we just got a bit of money at the cash machine in the subway and then purchase our tokens.  Using the subway was not difficult at all, a bit crowded at 7:00p.m. (this is there rush hr.) otherwise not an issue.  We went to the Topkapi Palace and also purchased tickets for the Harem rooms.  I really enjoyed the tour of the Harem rooms.  (On a side note, there is a vendor who sells icecream a little walk before you get into the Topkapi Palace.  The icecream there is made with a product that allows it to stretch a bit and when you get a cone he does a little show..flips the cones, etc. my son loved this.) We went to the Grand Bazaar after the palace and although I am glad we saw it, it was way to much for me.  You get approached constantly asking "Where are you from?" to start a conversation and everyone wants to sell you there rugs, jewelry, etc. not at all relaxing.  We planned to eat in Istanbul for dinner but we were all so tired we went back to the ship and had dinner on the boat.  The next morning we took the Subway back to Haghia Sophia (gorgeous) and then went to the Spice Bazaar.  This was much more enjoyable.  People aren't as aggressive and we were able to purchase a few souveneirs.Ephesus:  We loved our day in Ephesus! This port is very nice and clean and has nice shopping (including a starbucks) right at the dock.  We arranged a private tour with Ekol travel.  A very sweet girl named Phylis (hope I spelled her name right) was waiting for us with our last name on a sign.  I knew it was going to be a great tour when I saw her smiling face and her bright red hair...she was great and gave us so much insight into the lives of people from the area. There was a driver who took us in a van while Phylis would give us history/information on the way to our tours.  We were so happy to have this private tour...many times you see large numbers of people following someone with a paddle.  I am not saying that these aren't good tours too but for the same cost you can do your own private tour and have someone answer all your questions and stop when you want to look a bit longer, etc.  I think it is a great way to see a port and learn more about the people who live there. We went to the ruins of Ephesus and toured the terrace houses.  This is a must!  This was an amazing tour.  We never went to Mary's house but many people on the ship said the same thing about that.  We drove to a little village called Sirince where local women made products and sell them, along with other vendors, on the streets.  We ate lunch there and did a bit of shopping, this was a very enjoyable stop.  On the way back to the ship Phylis gave my husband the name of a place to have a Turkish Bath. My son and I did some shopping in the port while my husband had his turkish bath..he was glad he tried it.  Athens: This is another port that we did on our own.  We used the subway system (which was the most confusing public transportation we used...it isn't impossible but you make 3 transfers to get to the Acropolis) We took a taxi back which cost 8e (on the way out of the port they wanted 25e, taxi drivers are hoping to pick people up at a higher cost...ask before you get in....once you are away from the port it is much cheaper.) We walked around the Acropolis, went into the beautiful new museum and walked around the Plaka...all this is in easy walkable distance of one another.Naples:  We booked a private tour with AP tours.  We had another wonderful day with our driver/tour guide Victorio.  He was very charming and sweet and always asked if we wanted more time for sights or if we wanted to stop to take a picture, etc. On the drive he would give us lots of information on the people from the area, tourism, the cost of living in the area, he was very easy to talk to and we enjoyed his company.  We started our tour with Pompeii. Victorio dropped us off and told us he would be waiting.we decided that 2 hrs. would be sufficient. (There is absolutely no way to see all the ruins in 2 hrs. but we also knew we wanted to see the Amalfi Coast and honestly we were a bit "ruined out".  We got to see about 1/3 of the ruins...it is a large area...and we were fine with that. Some people may want to make an entire day of this and then you would want to look into touring just Pompeii.)  We then took off on a lovely drive to Positano...what a beautiful little town on the cliffs of the Amalfi coast. The Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful and I am so glad we saw it.  We did a bit of shopping and walking around and then we drove to the top of a cliff and ate at a fantatic Italian restaraunt called La Tagliata...if you go bring your appetite. They keep bringing food and it is all delicious!  After lunch we drove to Sorento and walked around the town a bit...also a beautiful area.  Victorio then drove us to the Hydrofoil in Sorento and we took it back to the Ship.  A Super day!  Another option to this...our table mates had seen Pompeii so they weren't doing a tour.  They took the Hydrofoil from Naples to Capri and had a wonderful relaxing day.  It would be impossible to do all these things so it is important to decide what is most important and plan from there.  Maybe we will be lucky enough to visit Capri at another time!No matter what you choose to do during your port days you will have a great time.  This is a beautiful Cruise and I hope your trip is as enjoyable experience...it is a trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
We have just returned from a really great cruise on the Solstice and the overall experience was very good. We are quite experienced cruisers and have travelled on P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Each cruise ... Read More
We have just returned from a really great cruise on the Solstice and the overall experience was very good. We are quite experienced cruisers and have travelled on P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Each cruise line has its own individual 'flavor'. This year our cruise was from Rome so we decided to stay 2 days in Civitavecchia. I chose the Hotel Miramare and was not disappointed. It was situated in a great location right on the sea front and just steps away from some lovely restaurants and the market. We had a suite as there is my husband and I and our teenage son. The rooms were simple and clean and the walk to the port even with suitcases was not to strenuous. We boarded the Solstice at lunchtime. Its a lovely ship with great amenities including a fabulous gym. Our son really enjoyed the teen area and hanging out with new friends. We had made friends with some people on our Celebrity Connections thread and arranged to meet them - we had a wonderful time together and dined with them most nights. The cabin was, we feel, the best designed one we have had. Even with the pullman bed out it was easy to walk round and was perfectly spacious for all three of us. The bathroom had been ingeniously designed and had loads of storage space and the cabin storage was fine too. The bars we used were great of particular note was the Martini Bar with its great performing barmen and also the bar outside the Murano restaurant which had a lovely atmosphere. We dined in the Murano restaurant one night and were extremely impressed. Although there is an additional cover charge for this it is well worth it, the food was excellent (my lobster was out of this world!) but my advice is don't be tempted to fill up on bread before hand because the portions are very generous The food in the main dining room was a little disappointing and tended to be on the luke warm side at times, however, we made a comment to the Maitre D' about this and the service after that was much better, however, I would say the quality of the food was not quite up to the standards we have come to expect from Celebrity. We used the Oceanview Cafe for lunch and breakfast and were very impressed with the facilities and quality/choice of food here. We did play croquet on the lawn area and watched the hot glass show, both very enjoyable. Also the shows put on by the Celebrity theatre were very good particularly the one with the trapeze artists. There was also a late night comedian in the Celebrity Central venue and he was really funny. One thing we did miss was and outside deck party with a buffet. They did put on a deck party but there was no food and it just seemed to lack the fun that we had had on previous Celebrity cruises. Embarkation and Disembarkation was stress free. All in all we had a lovely cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
My daughter and I did just spend a very enjoyable 10 nights on Solstice to start June. a fine cruise, although not everything was seamless, of course. For example, I can't understand why Celebrity had me fill out all those online ... Read More
My daughter and I did just spend a very enjoyable 10 nights on Solstice to start June. a fine cruise, although not everything was seamless, of course. For example, I can't understand why Celebrity had me fill out all those online forms (for credit card usage, for allowing my daughter to drink, etc.) and then turned around and made me fill them all out again when we checked in. Just a minor irritant, but it seemed so avoidable unless they had lost their online data (which they then could have admitted).I can say overall I was very impressed with the ship and its crew. The public spaces may have been less in the "I'm aboard a ship" style, but they were gorgeous. The stateroom was beautiful plenty large enough, designed to make the most of the space. My first reaction was to immediately unpack all our bags into the closet and drawers, since ten nights at sea spelled "home" to me, unlike the vast majority of my land vacations. This is certainly the feeling the ship would like to inspire, as we were always welcomed back after a long, hot day of excursions with a cold drink, an iced towel and, "Welcome home!" I must say, it worked for me, as I did feel like I had come home when I returned to the ship.More specific critiques. I have little but praise for our room steward. Top notch. We did get a couple unexpected entries into the room while there, one when we probably would have been expected to be elsewhere, one when the "Do Not Disturb" sign was very much in place (although this wasn't our normal steward). The whole logistics involved in taking care of all those staterooms must be a science in itself. The same must be said for dining. The Grand Epernay is obviously an example of scientifically controlled mayhem—two shifts of dining on two different floors, yet there was never a feeling of "crowd control" except the first night when everyone needed to find their seat assignments. Dining was one of the few places where you realized that their were enough passengers onboard to populate a fair-sized town, but approaching our table was always a matter of avoiding the rapidly-scurrying wait staff, not being caught in a queue of fellow travelers. Because of the marvelous job with crowd flow, it is a testament to their work that the primary criticism of the dining experience has been somewhat less-than-hot entrEes. Yes, I agree, I would very much prefer not having to send food back for reheating, but I wasn't aghast. (I think it was more telling the first night when the crème brûlEe really should have just been called custard, since they obviously didn't have the time to melt the sugar on top of what could be a thousand or so identical desserts.) I must say, unlike some other reviews, we had the most wonderful wait staff, with personable, attentive servers who attended to the table promptly and never seemed overly delayed in the delivery of the next course. The one more serious issue. As a first timer, I did go to Customer Relations several times with questions. Early on when returning my Disembarkation Questionnaire, I was told they had been informed that there would be no train service from Civitavecchia when we returned after the cruise. And no taxis in town (well, maybe five or six). But we can sell you very high-priced city transfers, so get it quickly so you will be able to return to Rome. OK, I grumbled and paid up. Later at dinner, our dinner companions, who also planned to go by train, had no knowledge of this rather important situation and cast doubt on its veracity. So off the Customer Relations again—where they told me that everyone had either been personally informed, or they had a message waiting for them in their room. Oh, OK. The next evening? Our companions had still heard nothing, which really concerned me, so we started plotting our own shared ride. When I approached Customer Relations again with this news, they admitted they'd gotten it wrong and that the trains would run as usual. Unfortunately I have the feeling I wouldn't have been told this, but would have been allowed to take the expensive, inconvenient transfer instead. And so I cancelled my transfers. Or so I was told, until I returned to Customer Relations with a later bill where the charges still remained. This time they told me I needed to bring in my purchase paperwork to cancel the order—but again, I would not have been told this. I wasn't too happy about it this time, which prompted the attendant to make a joke about getting the previous person fired, which I thought REALLY hit a wrong note. So long story short: Celebrity, you need to work seriously on communications, especially when it involves shifting information about something of rather vital importance.Other admittedly nit-picking items. 1) The library was a very nice place to read, but what thrift store did they visit to stock the shelves? I'm not asking for a comprehensive library, but having old encyclopedia year books and the third books in trilogies without the first two (yes, I checked on the first day) made it appear the library was just a pretty prop. It does seem that, if you are going to do it, you want to do it right. 2) About the same with the game room: a nice space, but after the first day all the playing cards were gone as well as any popular board games—my daughter wanted Scrabble so I guess we were supposed to grab it that first night, as it never reappeared again—so maybe someone should be assigned to keep the room stocked? 3) The TV interactive information system for Ship Location was worthless. Why show GPS location on a stylized map with an unlabeled single line designating a coastline? I was looking forward to keeping track of our course, knowing what islands we were passing, essentially visualizing where we were in the Mediterranean. I had to track down the Atlas in the library to make a guess. How about a basic contract with Google Maps? Favorites. I'll only bring up the spaces we used most. Top location? The Solarium, with a nice pool and jacuzzi, a fountain and quiet music. I would have liked the cruise to go longer just to lounge here. Best lounge? The Sky Observation Lounge, especially when the music didn't get too loud. Alternate dining? We only tried the Bistro on Five, which did make very good crepes, so I would recommend it. We also ate plenty in the Oceanview Cafe, which had very satisfying buffet food (and gave us the ice cream and pizza we needed after excursions as a snack before dinner!). And I have to make a plug for the Fortunes Casino, since I did win a fair amount—some of the crew were a bit inexperienced at the craps table so you had to watch your payoffs, but I didn't come expecting Vegas.OK, enough said. I feel like my negatives stand out more than my positives, but in fact they were the small details in the midst of a most pleasant experience. I will want to do this again, perhaps with an itinerary that is not so port-of-call heavy so I can relax in the Solarium more often ... Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
This was my 13th cruise ship so I'd say I'm a veteran cruiser now. My wife and I started cruising with Carnival first and then branched off to try Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and finally decided to stick with Royal ... Read More
This was my 13th cruise ship so I'd say I'm a veteran cruiser now. My wife and I started cruising with Carnival first and then branched off to try Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and finally decided to stick with Royal Caribbean for the majority of our cruises until trying this new Celebrity ship. We're glad we did and now we're big fans! The Celebrity Solstice is an amazing ship and I'd have to rate it as well above any we've tried before. I typically pick either very large (over 100K ton) or very new ships and this one fit both bills. I'm glad they're building more Solstice-class because I'll be looking to cruise on one of her sister vessels in coming years. It's a very clean, bright, and airy ship. The use of glass throughout, the different types of seating (hammocks?!) on the decks, the lawn, and just the general design made it feel very open, inviting, modern (not too trendy) and relaxing. The staff was friendly and I can't say enough about the food - excellent! We decided to try their new Aqua Class staterooms (AQ). Essentially, it's a balcony room but you get some added perks to make your experience feel a bit higher-class (it worked too). In our stateroom when we arrived at the ship there was a bottle of Champagne on ice, fresh fruit and bottles of water (not sure if these were for AQ passengers only?). Each day our stateroom was restocked with a couple more bottles of water which my wife and I took with us on excursions each day. There had nice robes and hemp slippers that my size 12 feet had no chance of fitting (must be European sized?!). We were also given a gift during the cruise - a Celebrity shopping bag. The website mentioned the Hansgrohe shower head but other than the novelty of it, we played with it once and then turned off the 4 body-jets and just used it like any other shower. One of the exclusive perks for AQ class passengers was that you eat in a smaller, quaint restaurant called "Blu". The restaurant is next door to two extra-cost specialty restaurants. Our table was near the concierge's desk and we saw several people request entry and even offer to pay an extra fee but they were all politely turned away. The ship is pretty serious about maintaining the exclusivity of the restaurant. As noted earlier I think I'm a seasoned cruiser and one factor was usually consistent - I've typically gained anywhere from 7-10 lbs. I'm happy to report that this was the very first cruise I've ever taken where I didn't gain any weight! The gourmet portions were right-sized (not served on a platter) and even though it was available (and often encouraged) I didn't order second (or third) servings of any entrEes as I've done in the past and I never went hungry. With the healthy, lean foods, exercising in their great gym, and the active excursions, it all added up to a net gain of zero pounds - THAT was amazing to me! I wasn't starving myself or even trying to do anything special (except not eat myself into a coma) and I came out the same way I went in. In addition to the restaurant, there was a special glass-enclosed Spa relaxation lounge at the front of the ship available to AQ passengers. There was always soft meditation music, fresh ice water w/ fruit, and it's well off the beaten path. The times my wife and I went in there I only saw one other person so it truly was a relaxing location for those times when you wanted to avoid the masses. We (and lots onboard) loved the Martini Bar. There is also a nightclub onboard but it seemed to attract the younger 18+ crowd on our cruise and the karaoke lounge was a hit-or-miss. The 35-55 crowd congregated at the Martini Bar. We met a lot of interesting people but thanks to the "sampler" I kept ordering I don't quite remember any of them ;-) The drinks were good but the watching the skilled bartenders was just as much fun (ever seen Tom Cruise in the movie "Cocktail"?). So if you ever get a chance to sail the Celebrity Solstice or the Equinox then you've got to give it a shot - they're truly beautiful, unique ships. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
My husband and I were traveling with my 2 older sisters.  We have been on many cruises, but this was the first time that we had sailed with Celebrity and for the most part we were extremely pleased with the experience.   The Solstice ... Read More
My husband and I were traveling with my 2 older sisters.  We have been on many cruises, but this was the first time that we had sailed with Celebrity and for the most part we were extremely pleased with the experience.   The Solstice was a new ship that had only been out a couple of times before our cruise, so it still had the sparkle that a lot of the older ships seem to lose after being in service for a while.  We got to Rome a couple of days before we were scheduled to depart and stayed at the Eurostars International Palace in Rome.  We were pleased with the hotel.  The rooms were pretty good size for a European Hotel and it was central to most of the sites we wanted to see, with convenient transportation to everything else.We checked out of the hotel in the morning and got to Civitavecchia around noon.  We were able to check in.  The process went very smoothly.  There were 10-15 people checking the passengers in, so there was almost no wait time.  They said that the rooms would not be ready until 1:30pm so we went to lunch.  As you walked into the Lido Buffet, there was a crewmember standing there with hand sanitizer, making sure everyone used it before they went in to eat. (This was consistent through the whole trip at all of their restaurants).  We really appreciated this since we were cruising just after the swine flu "epidemic" began.  It was the first time that we have been on a cruise that one of us didn't come back with a cold.   We did not book any excursions through the Celebrity Solstice.  We booked all private tours  just for the 4 of us before we left.   They were not only cheaper than the ones Celebrity offered, they were more flexible and built the tour according to how much time we wanted to spend at a site. On a couple of the tours, we actually changed parts of the itinerary as we went along. Things we liked about the cruise:The food was really good most of the time.  The only time we had issues with it was once or twice at night in the Oceanview Cafe.  They didn't have a lot of variety and sometimes it was cold. I think they wanted to encourage you to go to the dining room.  The food in the dining room was excellent.  We never had a bad meal there. The cabin attendants were awesome.  They always seemed to be on duty.  I don't know when they slept but they seemed to be available to us 24/7.  The waiters were also incredible.  They seemed to anticipate your every need.  The acupuncturist, Grace was very knowledgeable and was worth every penny I spent.  In general the whole staff was very good. The ship itself was beautiful and very clean.  It was easy to find your way around on the ship, which says a lot since I tend to get lost easily on cruise ships.  If you did get turned around, all of the crew were very knowledgeable and helpful in directing you to the right area. Things we didn't like:The ATM machines ran out of money about 3-4 days before the end of the cruise.  That in itself was bad enough but the front desk kept telling people that it was unable to get the signal when they were close to shore.  Of course after 2 days when it still didn't work we realized it was more than the signal.  One of the front desk crew finally told us that it was out of money and there was no way to fill it until the end of the cruise.  Unfortunately the others were still telling people that it was the signal until the day we disembarked.  They only had 2 ATM's on board for 3800 people. The meal times - They were 6:15 and 8:45.  The first one was too early, the last one too late.  We had the later time but switched half way through the cruise.  If you had the late dining, the show didn't start until 11pm  which was hard if you were going out the early the next day (10pm would have been fine).  Their shows were not attended well at all and I think part of it was their weird dinner times.  Everyone complained about that. The photographers were not as active as some of the cruises we have been on.  In fact we didn't even know that they were taking pictures at the dinner tables until several days in the cruise. Even on formal night, they still didn't take pictures of everyone in the dining room. They just seemed to do one side of the room and then left.  We are used to them being much more involved with the guests activities. Even though there were a few minor annoyances, It was a really good cruise, probably one of the best we have been on. We would definitely sail again on the Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
We have just returned from a family vacation on the Celebrity Solstice and we are all still talking to each other! The trip consisted of my husband and I, two teenagers and my In-law's. The crew on the ship could not have been more ... Read More
We have just returned from a family vacation on the Celebrity Solstice and we are all still talking to each other! The trip consisted of my husband and I, two teenagers and my In-law's. The crew on the ship could not have been more friendly. They always had a smile on their face and genuinely willing to help you with anything. First the check in was the most efficient check in process we have ever had on a cruise. No problems at all and no waiting in line. My husband and I were in an Aqua Class cabin (1523). Our room was very spacious, lots of useable storage space. We had 2 extra large suitcases and they both fit under the bed along with another carry on size suitcase. The bathroom was a nice size. Our veranda had two chairs with foot rest and a table. We had coffee there every morning. Our room was toward the front. We only had movement a couple times during the cruise but the water was a little rough and even down on the 4th and 5th floors towards the middle it was moving a little. Not enough movement for motion sickness unless you are really sensitive. Our cabin steward was Marco and I don't know how he did it but our room was cleaned every time we left! Our teenagers had an inside cabin on the same floor (1532). We thought this room would be across from us but the door to it is actually on the other side of the hall. It was ok for us because our children are 15 and 17 but if you had smaller children this would not work. I did not notice much difference in size of the room or the bathroom. It was just missing the veranda and some of the amenities were a little better in our Aquaclass room. I did enjoy having a lighted make-up mirror and hair dryer that was almost full size. The jetted shower in AQ class was nice too after a long day of sightseeing. But, all the rooms had the necessary toiletries (shampoo, conditioner,lotion, cotton balls, q-tips) and hairdryers. My in-law's had a regular balcony room (7247). Their balcony was a little bigger because it was located on the part of the ship that jogs out a little. Very private though no one else could see onto the balcony. The lifeboats were below them but did not obstruct their view in any way. Because we were in AQ class we were supposed to eat in Blu every night. We did the first night but then got moved to the main dining room so we could be with our family. That was bitter sweet! The food in Blu was much better than the dining room. We felt it was more important to be with our family than to eat well. The dining room was probably our biggest disappointment. The food was fine just not as good as other cruise ships we have been on. The staff was great but the food was a little lacking. The food at the Oceanview Cafe was better than the food in the dining room. In talking to others on board the food at Blu was the best. The coffee and tea onboard was wonderful. Wine prices were reasonable. We spent a lot of time in the Cellar. Great wine bar! Also, don't miss the ice bar for some great martini's.  We did not do a tour of Santorini or Mykonos. We spent the day just walking around and shopping. I would suggest the cable car vs the donkey in Santorini! Also, don't miss the sunset on Santorini. It is most beautiful. We did private tours in Istanbul and Ephesus. We used Ekol travel. Nur with Ekol was great to work with and very professional. Our tour guide in Istanbul was Ezel. She was absolutely fantastic. She was right there waiting for us as we left the gangway. Not only did we get a great 2 day tour with Ezel she arranged for us to have dinner in Istanbul the night the ship was docked there. That turned out to be the most fun night on our cruise. Our reservation was at the Kalamar Restaurant. The restaurant  picked us up at the port and took us to the fish market district. We had a fantastic dinner. The food was excellent. I recommend the Salt Encrusted Sea Bass. We even had belly dancers come around to our table. It seemed to be an area that the locals gather after work. A lot of fun and a beautiful area. When we were done the restaurant took us back to the ship. The shuttle to and from the restaurant was free but we of course gave them a good tip. Thank you Ezel. Our tour in Ephesus was also through Ekol. Our tour guide was Sky. She must be the most patient person ever and very fun! When you do the tours in Ephesus make sure you see the Terrace Houses. They were just opened to the public in the last 2 years and they are unbelievable. We also went rug shopping and Sky never made us feel rushed. She took us to two different places. We fell in love with a rug from Ege Hali. We have been to Istanbul and Ephesus before and we bought a silk rug back in 2000 in Ephesus. So we are familiar with several different carpet venues. The people at Ege Hali were really genuine and trustworthy. I have their contact info if anyone would like to have it. My in-laws did a ship tour of Athens. They were not impressed with the Athens tour. They couldn't hear the tour guide, the guide didn't explain what they were seeing very well and they got separated from the group due to the caos around the Acropolis. However we all did a tour of Sorrento and Pompeii with the ship and it was great. It all depends on the tour guide you have. I'm not sure who the ship used for the tour guide in Athens but they used Aloschi Brothers for the Sorrento and Pompeii tour and our guide, Hakim was great. He offered great stories and was very funny. Loved the tour of the farm in Sorrento where they make mozzarella and lemoncello. When you are getting back on the ship after being on shore the crew is there with cold towels to wipe your face and hands off, cold water or juice to drink and hand sanitizer. It's the small things!! Back to the ship....we were not fans of the lawn club. Personally I think they should use that space for more chairs to lay out in and another pool area. The show on the last evening was really good, similar to Cirque du Soleil. It would have been nice to have more shows like that on the ship. Our teenagers stayed busy at the X club and playing basketball. They both meet some other kids their age and hung out at night and days at sea. The pools shut down at 8 which I think is early especially if the kids want to swim but I think most cruise ships do this for safety reasons. The gym is nice. We only used it 3 times but good space and machines. My husband and I missed the champagne brunch but my mother in law said it was magnificent. We had a great time on the Solstice. It is beautiful and designed well. We will definitely sail with Celebrity again. I think our next one might be on Azamara without the kids though!  Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
Our family of 6 (2 grandparents, 2 parents and 2 teen age kids) had a fabulous time on Solstice while traveling the Mediterranean.  We were worried about what all of us could do together and separate on this cruise and Solstice was the ... Read More
Our family of 6 (2 grandparents, 2 parents and 2 teen age kids) had a fabulous time on Solstice while traveling the Mediterranean.  We were worried about what all of us could do together and separate on this cruise and Solstice was the answer.  While my in-laws are seasoned cruisers, we had never thought about taking a cruise...ever.  This was truly a vacation to remember that met all of our needs plus some. If you are looking for a vacation that could be a great balance for varying age ranges, this itinerary and ship are it!We won't duplicate what others have written positively or negatively.  Things we found in addition to share are as follows:1.  Our kids really enjoyed the teen programming and friends that they met from all over the world.  I am sure some adults on the cruise were not as happy to see the larger number of kids on this cruise, but we did not find the kids to be rude or disrespectful when we "accidentally" ran into them (other teens) on deck.  It was great to see the kids all interacting and learning how to find their sealegs of proper socializing.  Too boot, Solstice is also great to find privacy almost at any turn.....it is an amazingly designed ship.2.  We found the sea days rather perplexing as with most cruisers for the lack of consideration by seat hogs but in addition thought people who left their used towels on the chairs without intention of returning even more rude.  You did not know if chairs were open or not without bothering the people relaxing next to them.  3.  We really enjoyed the Solarium for adult lounging, the hot tub a little cooler than US standards..but you could stay in longer!  We really loved the clam shell round lounger chairs too!  Most of the time the security assisted the under 16 youth away from the area after the first day.  4.   We greatly enjoyed meeting back up before dinner each night on our veranda for cocktails/mocktails when we could. We brought over 2 chairs from my in-laws room and sat on the veranda each night to talk about our daily excursion experiences.5.  We loved our veranda room and found it not as bad as everyone said with 4 people sharing the room.  I guess since we're newbies to cruising we did not notice the difficulty in sharing sleeping arrangements.  Plus we have a sailboat and are very efficient in our space usage in general!  The pullman and couch made a great bunkbed situation for our kids to share at night and stored nicely each morning per the room attendants.  After all, how much room do you really need at night?  I must say it did force our kids to keep their stuff organized and neat daily!  6.  We took advantage of the $29.00 coupon for laundry and that probably saved us some space issues by reducing our clothing needs for 10 days on a cruise and 6 days post cruise in Rome.7.   We did a mixture of on our own, private and Celebrity tours.  When used the public and taxi transportation at the ports we found them to be easy to use.  By using a taxi and metro in Athens, we saved a bunch in time and saw the Acropolis with virtually 100 people max in the morning!  Can't say that about my in-laws and their Celebrity tour who were there about 10am.  The best for us to recommend is to do your research and plan your excursions based on your personal needs.  My in-laws were more likely to take the Celebrity tours.  They did the Taoromina in Sicily, Athens bus tour, Santorni wine tour, Delos tour in Mykonos...all were 4 hour tours and they raved about them with the exception of Athens. We talked them into 2 private tours in Naples and Kusadasi that were absolutely unforgetable.  They were actually better for my father in-law who struggles to keep up due to his knees and "pre-cruise" unplanned hernia surgery!  The private tour bus was great for easily picking him up at the entrance of a site and sometimes half the price at the cruise tour.  The tour guides were informative and locals to the area.  Again, absolutely incredible excursions all around.8.  If you are in a large traveling group, don't be afraid to do separate port excursions.  It made for great conversations to hear what different options we experienced upon meeting up post excursion.  The lawn area became another of our favorite areas to watch Solstice leave port when all 6 of us wanted to chat and share!  9.  We had an early dinner seating per my in-laws request.  I found it to be a little too early for me as that the pools were closed each night before we finished dinner (8pm).  If we had a longer day in the port, we rushed to get to dinner at 6:15, especially for the formal nights where we wanted to look our best.  I guess both dinner seatings have their pros and cons.  If you like to swim and relax....it does make it hard to get it all in on a port intensive cruise like the Mediterranean.  I think the only time we enjoyed a louging pre-dinner dinner was when we skipped our 6:15 dinner and ate at the buffet, which BTW was really good option each time we ate there.  The kids loved the waffles for breakfast and the ice cream any time of course!10. Our last point to share, if you are going all this way to see the sites..don't hold back.  Plan to spend a little money on this trip to do it right.  Document it with pictures, notes, nice souvenirs and great conversations.  This was a trip we won't easily forget and it will be difficult to top in future vacations.  Celebrity did a great job keeping us happy.  They were not perfect, but then again none of us are.  I have to say that when we did have a concern, they addressed it quickly and if needed, corrected within minutes of being brought to their attention.  All staff seemed eager to please and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
This was my 11th cruise and Celebrity blew me away with their spectacular service and beautiful ship.  We arrived in Rome at 8:30 am on the day of the cruise.  We took Celebrity's "Transfer and Panoramic Tour" for ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise and Celebrity blew me away with their spectacular service and beautiful ship.  We arrived in Rome at 8:30 am on the day of the cruise.  We took Celebrity's "Transfer and Panoramic Tour" for $129/person.  This was a great way to see Rome.  The tour started at 10:30 am.  The Tour of Rome was about two hours.  They dropped us off at the Vatican to walk around for 1 hour.  Then it was 1 ½ hours to the port. We were at the ship at 3pm.  The guide was knowledgeable as we drove around Rome and she explained what we were seeing.    SICILY:   We were in Sicily on a Saturday.  The shops were closed from 1-4pm.  We slept in and got off the ship about 1pm and walked around the city.  It was a neat city but would have been neater if everything was open.  I recommend getting to the Fatalani Church where the mechanical figures perform at 11:45 am.  If you miss it(like we did), they do a mini performance every 15 minutes.  You can also climb to the top of the clock tower for a small fee.  Many people went to a town called Taormina which is a resort town and everything stays open.  People said it was a neat town and was what you thought Sicily would be like.   ATHENS:  We walked to the metro which took 35-40 minutes walking fast. The day we docked in Athens we were at the far boat slip.  Princess cruise lines was docked about 15 minutes closer to the Metro.   We are in our early 30's and are in shape.  I would not recommend doing this!  If you do, here is how to get there.  Walk out of the port and turn left.  Follow the sidewalk along the water side and walk for 40 minutes and you will see a pedestrian bridge that you walk up to go across the street.  Once you cross the bridge you are at the metro station on your left.  The ticket cost $1Euro to get to the Acropolis.  The ride is 25 minutes. Get off at Monastiraki.  Once you exit the train station turn right.  You will see some ruins off to your left and you will walk up a hill.  You will think you are walking through a quiet neighborhood but you are on your way to the Acropolis.  The streets will wind but you will end up at the entrance.  It takes about 10-15 minutes of uphill walking.  The entrance fee is $12 Euro.  I heard you could take a taxi to the Acropolis for $20 euro.  This would allow you to get there before the bus tours and you won't be as tired!  After visiting the Acropolis we walked down to some other ruins, Olympic Stadium, Parliament(guards change at noon ...you can have your picture with them).  We walked through the Plaka which is across from Parliament.  There you will find many shops and restaurants.  MYKONOS:  We took the ship's transfer option to the town ($10 unlimited use).  If you walk it would take you about 45 minutes because it is a couple of miles away.  There is no sidewalk so it is very dangerous to walk it.  While in town we walked around the many windy narrow streets.  You will find many shops and eateries.  If you follow the shoreline you will walk through the area called Little Venice (restaurants on the water) and will see the windmills.  We took the city bus $1.40 Euro to Paradise Beach.  The bus stop is at the far end of the shops.  Ask where it is. The streets are too confusing to be able to tell you where it is.  The beach is 20 minutes away.  It is nice if you want to see a beach and layout.  There are options to rent chairs or you can lie out on a towel for free.  There are jet skis you can rent.  There are snacks/drinks available.  The bus comes about every 30 minutes.  There is a line and you have to be aggressive to get on the bus.  TURKEY:   We took the Ephesus Deluxe tour through www.helloephesus.com.  It was $60 USD/person due at the end of the tour.  We had 11 people on the tour to get that rate.  The tour took us to Ephesus, terrace homes(cruise tour does not go in them), House of Virgin Mary, tomb of St. John, Turkish lunch(delicious), museum, and tour of carpet factory.  The guide was nice but I don't know how accurate his information was.  He walked with us through Ephesus for 2 ½ hours and spoke about what we saw.  I noticed the other tour guides had a badge on but ours did not.   A similar tour on the ship would cost you hundreds of dollars.  I would recommend using this company.  All entrance fees were included and the delicious lunch.  RHODES:  We walked around the old city on our own.  If you walk off the ship and stay on the sidewalk on the water side and walk 20 minutes you will run into a beautiful beach. It is hidden behind some restaurants.  On your way you will pass a church and what looks like a sailing/yacht club.  There are chairs to rent or you can lie out on your towel for free.  There is a diving platform you can swim out to that has three levels to dive from.  We saw the cruise activity staff and dancers there spending some free time on the beach.  So you can ask them how to get there! SANTORINI:  We took the donkey up the hill to Fira.  This was $5 Euro each.  It takes 30 minutes.  At the end of the ride you can buy your picture for $5 Euro.  There are 588 steps to the top of Fira.  It would take you awhile to walk it.  We walked around the town and then caught a city bus to Oia for $1.40 Euro.  The bus comes every 30 minutes and the bus ride is 30 minutes.  Oia is more expensive than Fira for shopping and eating.  There are beautiful views but it is more narrow windy roads with shops and eateries.  It was easy to take the bus each way.  A similar tour on the ship was $52/person to get to and from Oia.  NAPLES:  We took AP Tours #4.  Driver met us at port and took us to Pompeii.  We were there right when the gates opened 8:30am.  It cost $11 Euro to get into Pompeii.  We rented the walking tour earpiece machine for $6 Euro.  I would recommend paying extra for a human guide through the tour company.  We would have learned a lot more.  We spent two hours in Pompeii.  It is a bunch of ruins but was interesting to see.  The guide then took us to Positano where we had one hour to walk around.  Then we went to Sorrento where we had two hours to walk around.  He showed us a good pizza restaurant where our group decided to have lunch.  Sorrento and Positano are tourist towns with shops and eateries.  Along the way our guide stopped twice so we could take pictures of the Amalfi Coast.  He took us to the ferry station in Sorrento and purchased our ticket to Naples Port.  We boarded the Ferry at 4:25 to return to Naples at 5pm. It was a neat perspective instead of having him drive us back to the port along the same route we had already driven.  The tour cost $60 Euro + $11 Euro Pompeii + $11 Euro Ferry ride=82 Euro each with a group of 8.  You pay at the end of the tour.  A similar tour on the ship was $345/person.  I highly recommend this company.  DISEMBARKATION:  You can get off the ship with your luggage at 6am.  We got off at 7am and carried our luggage.  We had arranged a taxi with another couple through Rome Cabs for $130 Euro.  The ship charges $90/person for the airport transfer.  The taxi ride took less than one hour to get to the airport.  The driver dropped us at the international terminal.  THIS IS NOT WHERE YOU CHECK IN.  We had to ride a bus to another terminal where the flights for Detroit, Atlanta, and New York check in.  Then you go through security and take another shuttle back to the original terminal.  This process takes about 1-1 1/2 hours.  We had a 10:40 am flight and we were at our gate at 9:15 am.  Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
This will be a review in miniature as so much has been said about Her.We were onboard quickly at around 2, room was ready. We were in 1632 and the only problem with the room is that we are not in it anymore. I cannot even put into words ... Read More
This will be a review in miniature as so much has been said about Her.We were onboard quickly at around 2, room was ready. We were in 1632 and the only problem with the room is that we are not in it anymore. I cannot even put into words how pleased I am with the Celebrity team. From the wry wit of the Captain to the old world class acts that are the maitre d's to the guys and girls who just blend in with the woodwork, you could not find, IMHO, a finer group.AQ was great for two ladies as we used the spa facilities as an extention of our room. You cannot expect two high maintenance chicks to get ready at the same time and still remain best friends. AQ preserved our friendship.Murano was the best meal I've had in my life/twice (ditto for Carole)Martini bar was awesome (Thanks Boys)Casino, so much fun ( Thanks Victor)I met some great people, salt of the earth, I loved Turkey, it restored my faith in the human race, Athens I can do without forever, I wish I had found a bus to Oia, I wish I ate more, slept less, I should have gotten on the donkey in Santorini (Pinkie I miss you sneaking up on me) and I hope I can do it all again before they're throwing dirt on me.If it even crosses your mind, if you even consider it...do it. It was incredible. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Pre/Post Hotel-   We did this on our own and stayed at the Hotel d'Inglaterra.   It was a block or two from the Spanish steps.  The rate included breakfast.  I highly recommend this hotel.Embarkation/De-   What a breeze!   ... Read More
Pre/Post Hotel-   We did this on our own and stayed at the Hotel d'Inglaterra.   It was a block or two from the Spanish steps.  The rate included breakfast.  I highly recommend this hotel.Embarkation/De-   What a breeze!   We were on the ship no more than 15 minutes after we arrived at the port.   The luggage was outside of our room by the time the rooms were open to guests.  We didn't leave the ship until after 9am.  I thought since this was the first time in port, there might be small issues but the process was flawless, beginning to end.Public Rooms-   So much has been stated before that I won't repeat all of it.  The ship is beautiful.Cabin- The SS1 is very large.   Contrary to earlier posts, there is no soot problem in the aft of the ship.   There was plenty of closet space for us, and we packed a lotenough clothes, including formal wear for the cruise and an additonal week in Europe.  I love the rain shower in the bathroom.   Though the toiletries are a private label (not name brand) they are high quality.   Our cabin steward and assistant were excellent.   Both were very visible and friendly.   Two things I will point out:   I miss the water pitchers that were refilled twice a day.   I don't know if this was just missed both times I have been on Solstice or if this was eliminated.   The second item also was the same on both sailings:   I rarely saw the Butler.   Honestly, this is barely worth noting.   However, I believe this is because of the location of these suites.  I believe there are only 2 per floor on several decks.Fitness/Recreation-  Solstice offers a large gym.   The spa pricing is comparable to other cruises we have been on.   I repeated the Thai Pulstice Massage that I loved previously.   If anyone is on in the near future, ask for Lazslo.   He was by far the best therapist I have had.  I only used the sauna and Persian Gardens a few times and really enjoyed them both.Dining-  This is always subjective.   However, if anyone states they couldn't find anything to eat that they liked on this ship, they are just too hard to please.   The buffet area had fantastic food and an endless variety.   The hamburgers on the pool deck....well, let's just say I ate too many of them.   My sister enjoyed Egg Benedict in the many forms they were offered.  We ate in the MDR and found the food to be quite good.   The first day, the service was quite slow.   The second day it was very fast.   We were told later that the kitchen was rolling out a brand new menu on this cruise.Murano-  Still great!   Yes, there are changes and there is less table-side presentations.   The Goat Cheese Soufflee is back.   It is not 100% the same in presentation (I prefered this one to the previous) but the taste is still the same one I have loved.  Service was top notch.Tuscan Grille-  My new favorite specialty restaurant.   My sister is a "calamare freak" and loved these.   I had my new favorite appetizerCrab and Cheese with Roasted Corn.   I am hungry just thinking about it.   The service was very friendly and attentive, the view was amazing, and the food matched.Entertainment-  As other have said, there were many performers throughout the ship.   We only saw 3 main shows and liked them all.   My favorite was the Cirque du Soleil type show.   Oceans Four was also great.   There was plenty to do at night, and we managed to stay up late most nights as the bars were busy with other passengers.  Service-  This is where X and Solstice stand out.   I never imagined my previous cruises could be surpassed but they were.   It was a treat to see so many of my favorite staff on board.   It was almost like a reunion of sorts.  In fact, we ran into our dining room waiter from 1.5 years ago and he came and said hi and asked if we still drank decaf after dinner.   I don't know how the Celebrity staff remembers such thingsthis is not the first time something like this has happened.   He had just boarded in Istanbul and since a portion of our table asked to be moved to early seating, we asked to be moved to his section.  The management of this ship is on the ball.   They were present everywhere we went.   From the officers to the crew, we were greeted with smiles, by our names, and always asked how our cruise was and if anything could be done for us.  The Captain of the ship is full of charm and is very funny!   Be sure to go to the Welcome Toast!Shore Excurions-   See below for details.   There were huge crowds for the the ship shore excursions and I thought Solstice did a great job of this.   We met in the theater and the process, though long at times was well organized.   The company that X uses to handle all of the tours in both Ephesus and Istanbul was great.  We decided to make a few changes to the previously purchased tickets, and the staff at the SE Desk as well as the SE Mgr and On Board Revenue Mgr took great time with us to assist us in making our selections.Overall-   A fantastic cruise that will be hard to top.   We met some great people on board that we will continue to keep in touch with.   Solstice was spotless and the ship looked as new as when I was on the first cruise.   The staff really cares and goes out of their way.   Solstice has raised the bar. 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Sail Date: May 2009
Background This was our third cruise - first with Celebrity after cruising twice with RCCL. We both turned 50 this year and with children now grown up we seek much of a child free environment on our cruises, lots of daytime relaxation ... Read More
Background This was our third cruise - first with Celebrity after cruising twice with RCCL. We both turned 50 this year and with children now grown up we seek much of a child free environment on our cruises, lots of daytime relaxation and lively nights. I should also say that the ship is more important to us than the ports of call and the main draw on this cruise was being on a new ship with the added benefit of a great itinerary. Pre-cruise We stayed overnight at Hotel Traiano in Civitavecchia which was okay. We discovered her sister Hotel; the Bremante was much closer to the seafront area and would recommend this more if you don't like to walk too much. Transfer to the ship was complimentary and was pretty well booked up so you need to book it on arrival. Boarding Journey to the ship only took about 15 minutes and we were so excited to see the ship for the first time. No queues for check-in, we went right up to the AQ desk and within minutes were on our way through and on board by 12.30pm, very efficient. We got our glass of "champagne" on entry to the ship and made to feel very, very welcome right from the start. We were directed to the Oceanview Cafe as cabins were not going to be ready until around 1pm. Hand wash facilities were in operation with an attendant insisting everyone used the gel. We did hear people moaning during the cruise that they felt they were being treated like children but we observed people sneaking through without using the gel so it was really necessary. I think it is only considerate to your fellow passengers (and yourself) to ensure your hands are clean before using a self-service area. Cabins Just after 1pm an announcement told us cabins were now ready. We were off like a shot anxious to see what our AQ cabin had to offer. We loved it - not as big as the JS we had on Explorer but more than enough room for us and our belongings. I had read so much about this ship that I felt I knew everything about it and it was just as good as I expected, better in fact.... The photos of the cabins really don't do them justice. The multi-head shower in the bathroom was fantastic, our robes really thick and fluffy and the champagne on ice along with our fresh fruit and flowers added a real touch of luxury. We didn't like the iced tea at all and the canapEs were not worth bothering with (we only had them once). Our stateroom attendant Mario was excellent, he was so friendly but in a nice respectful way and so helpful. He got us extra coat hangers right away on request and as we didn't want to drink our champagne that day he put it on ice again later in the cruise and provided 4 champagne glasses for us so we could enjoy it with friends. We found the storage space more than adequate, the flat screen TV with music built in was really good and we found it fairly easy to operate. Our bed was ultra comfortable as were the pillows - our bed was right next to the balcony which I had hoped for. The balcony was not terribly big but well appointed; I liked the wooden decking and the wooden loungers. All in all I loved the cabin; it met all our needs and more. Public areas So much has been said about this ship so I will just focus on my favourites; as virtually everyone has reported, the standard of the furnishings and the range of comfortable seating / loungers all around the ship was beautiful; Relaxation Room - this is a fantastic place to lie and relax, very underused, I was often in on my own. Soft music, lovely scents, fresh juices and herbal teas complimentary, soft beds and nothing in front of you other than an expanse of ocean. Only problem is that spa staff use it as a waiting area for those getting treatments and this causes some disturbance. We did report it in feedback to Celebrity so I hope they change this as it is a real haven of tranquillity. Persian Gardens - I used this area twice, really enjoyable and great views out to sea. Solstice Deck - a great area for sunbathing on a double bed lounger, very comfortable and was never too crowded. Solarium - I LOVED what I call the clamshell beds, there are only around 8 of them so you need to up early to grab one or stay on board while others are ashore (we did on 2 days). They are made for sharing (but even better to have one to yourself) - lots of cushions to prop yourself up, with my i-pod and a book and my clamshell turned to face the sea I was in heaven, no way did it feel like I was on a ship with 3000 other people. I saw the hammocks and really wanted to use them but didn't get the chance, next time I will, they look great but you would need a hand to get on them to retain your dignity!! We spent a lot of time in the Solarium, didn't use the main pool area as this felt more tranquil but there always seemed to be some beds available if we had wanted to. The Lawn - we played bocce on the grass and really enjoyed it, hard to explain but it feels strangely comforting to have grass around on a ship, I personally really liked it and would not like to see it converted to more seating areas as some people have suggested, it adds yet another dimension to this ship. Martini Bar - our favourite hangout with our special order of a double flight of Martinis with our CC friends Audrey and Tim. The bartenders were great fun, very entertaining and friendly, they really looked like they were having a good time. It did get very busy just before the second dining time but that soon cleared; it was a nice lively area, a great place to socialise. Sky Observation lounge - we went to a Karaoke night up there and had a great time, I didn't really appreciate how beautiful the dEcor and furnishings were until I went back up in the daytime to take some photos. Celebrity has definitely gone the extra mile to make everywhere seem so upmarket and luxurious. Sunset Bar - right at the back of the ship this is a great place to sit for an afternoon tipple, again lovely seating and you can go directly up the stairway to get to the open seating area of the oceanview cafe to get a snack whenever. Downside of the sunset bar, smoking is allowed on one side and if when there were smokers there we really noticed the smell, it just seemed to blow everywhere. This is where CC members met for our Sailaway Party, complete with Mardi Gras beads. Ensemble Lounge - our Connexions party was held here and we had a great turnout of around 90 people. This is a very nice, more traditionally appointed area, very high quality but not as appealing to us. We definitely like the contemporary areas more, but the beauty of this ship is there is something and somewhere to suit all tastes. Restaurants Blu - being in AQ this was our appointed dining room and was a real bonus. Food and service were excellent and after going to Tuscan grill one evening we concluded that we preferred Blu. Paulo our waiter was first class and made us feel very special. Once we ordered additional potatoes and steamed veg, he offered them to us each evening. This is a beautiful restaurant, the rose theme and blue colour scheme is gorgeous. The rose wall is even more beautiful than in the pictures I have seen. The restaurant is not too big and this adds to the feeling of a very personal service. Main Dining Room - we went one evening out of curiosity and were accommodated no problem. The food and service were good and we really enjoyed our meal but not as special as Blu. We went to the Mother's Day brunch which was excellent; we had the most delicious fish and chips (real British style) and chocolate fountains with fresh strawberries, yummy. Murano - we had a beautiful Filet Mignon meal here with our sauce cooked at the table, a very nice experience and great service. We still felt that Blu was our favourite restaurant having been here and Tuscan Grill. Oceanview Cafe -we both thought the food here was excellent, lots of choice, we really like going up for afternoon tea around 4.00pm, lots of dainty sandwiches and bite sized cakes. They always had some sugar free deserts as well which felt a bit healthier. We always found we got seats no problem any time we went there. Ports of Call - not going to go into detail on these as my review is more about the ship, favourite port was Naples as we went to Capri, if you get the chance to go there, I highly recommend visiting Villa San Michelle at Anacapri. Istanbul was also very interesting especially our night out to Sultanas belly dancing club, attended by 38 of our CC friends (we organised this privately). Would recommend this if you are staying in port overnight. We asked for a stop off at the Blue Mosque on our way back to ship which they accommodated and what a sight seeing it all lit up at night. Santorini and Mykonos are simply beautiful, what more can I say. Kusadasi, great fun on a Jeep Safari / visit to Ephesus -very hot and dusty but worth it. Stayed on board at Athens as we had been before, great opportunity to get the Solstice deck almost to ourselves. Post Cruise We spent 2 nights at the Albergo del Senato in Rome, next door to the Pantheon. Excellent location where we spent our last night on the roof terrace having a nightcap with Joe and Melissa from CC looking out over Rome. A great end to a wonderful holiday. Overall We had a fantastic cruise; the ship was everything I had hoped for. Our CC group also contributed hugely to a great experience as there were so many friendly people who we met around the ship / in ports who quickly became like old friends. We sail on Equinox in February 2010 and I am so looking forward to sailing AQ again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Have had a few requests for review...... sorry it took so long.  After a terrible flight over on May 2nd (missed connections due to mechanical problems) we arrived in Rome 8 hours later than originally planned.  Stayed 1 night precruise ... Read More
Have had a few requests for review...... sorry it took so long.  After a terrible flight over on May 2nd (missed connections due to mechanical problems) we arrived in Rome 8 hours later than originally planned.  Stayed 1 night precruise at the Albergo del Senato right next door to the Pantheon.  Wonderful hotel in a perfect location.  We walked all over that evening after  a wonderful dinner at a cafe in the Piazza della Rotunda.  We shared a ride with 2 other couples from our sailing with Romecabs and they picked us up promptly at 11:50.  So easy.....didnt even have to load the luggage :)Boarded Solstice on Monday May 4th around 2:00 pm and while there was a line at the port, it went very smoothly and quickly.  We had previously sailed Royal Caribbean from the same terminal and their process was just as smooth and effortless.  Once on board our cabin was already ready so went to check it out.  The cabins are very nice.  Modern decor but not "in your face" modern which I do not like at all.  More of a "subdued modern" with earthy colors of tan, brown, burgandy etc.  We found our cabin to be a nice size and room for everything - well most everything.  I always take way too many pairs of shoes.... had those tucked everywhere.  Our balcony was one of the "angled" ones right before the hump and it was HUGE !  Cabin 6214.  The ship is designed very well so that most areas never felt crowded in any way.  We found lots of areas where we could be all alone and have a nightcap or just sit and watch the sea go by way up top.  Due to the port intensiveness of this cruise - we did not use many of the ships amenities....well except for the casino.  Did not attend any shows, lectures or presentations.  We used the sea days to "catch up" as we like to go-go-go in port.  We cruise for the ports - not the ship.Now about the ports.Santorini was beautiful.  We did not get up early to get our tender tickets and found ourselves with a high number which put is off the ship about 4 pm.  With arrival time at 2 pm my advice is get in line early.  We were there until 10 pm so that helped - but sunset at @ 8:30 that day so unless you want to wander around in the dark you will find yourself heading back to the ship right after sunset (which is what we did)  All aboard was 9:30 anyway and with the cable car line you don't want to cut it too short.  We hired taxi to take us to Oia, wait for us and return us to Fira for 50 euros.  Had planned on taking the bus but didnt want to hassle with it as this was soooo easy. Mykonos was ok.  Altho our original itin said tender - we docked.  Shuttle was provided into town for $ 10. per person round trip which we used.  Ran all day regularly.  Convenient.  Mainly walked around the town area, shopped and had lunch.  In retrospect wish we had of gone to Delos for the morning and spent just the afternoon in town.Istanbul WE LOVED.  After getting off the ship we exited the port area and found the nearest ATM and got lira.  Then went to the nearest tram stop and bought tokens and took the tram into the old town area.  Very easy, very convenient and very cheap !  70 cents one way ride per person.  Since we overnighted there and planned to use the tram again the next morning..... we bought our return tokens as well as round trip tokens for the next day so we wouldnt have to bother again.  Just keep them seperate from coin lira as they look like coin money.  Visited Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque and Cistern all which we enjoyed alot.  Missed Topkapi palace as even tho it is open until 7 pm they were not letting anyone in after 4:30.  Oh well.  Next trip.  Next morning we did the tram back into town and did the Grand Bazaar, had a great lunch at Bodrum restaurant and then back to the ship to leave.  Istanbul is clean, easy to get around in using the tram, beautiful park with fountian near sites..... people are reserved but helpful and friendly.Kusadasi was also extremely nice.  Resort area and has it all....mountains and water.  We did the Jeep Tour with Ekol travel and wow..... what a day.  Not for the faint of heart but if you like 4X4'ing, quaint villages and amazing ruins....this is it.  Include the Terrace Houses - it is worth the extra cost.  We were picked up at 9 am and dropped off at 6 pm.... then shower and change and back off the ship for dinner.  We had a wonderful meal very near the ship right on the boulevard that runs along the waterfront.  Kings Place.  Look for the clock tower and to the left.  We were in port here until midnight.Athens.  What can I say.  I have wanted to go there since I was a little girl.  While I am so glad I went - saw the Acropolis etc.... I did not like the city.  Big, dirty, smoggy ! and graffitti on every possible surface you can imagine.  We walked from the ship to the metro, took metro into Monistiki station then walked thru the Plaka up to the Acropolis.  Enjoyed that for a while, came back down, shopped a bit and had lunch.  Decided against the metro back (didnt want the walk at the other end) so took a taxi back to the ship for 20 euro.  Naples we had originally planned to do Capri as we did Pompeii and Amalfi coast tour last Europe trip.  But since me and half the ship had head colds by this time we just stayed in Naples.  Took a taxi to the National Archeological Museum and spent the morning there.  Had the taxi meet us and asked for some "good pizza".   He took us to a pizza place established in late 1800's.  Pretty good too :)  Then back to the ship.  If we get back to Naples again - will not stay in town...... also big city, dirty and while we enjoyed the museum there is just too much other AMAZING stuff nearby to stay in Naples.Back to Rome..... disembarkation was weird.  We left our cabin and went to get a coffee at Cafe Boccio (as we did each morning) while there we heard a ships officer talking on a walkie-talkie.....he told someone to call our disembarkation color - so instead of going to the theatre we turned around and headed for the gangplank..... no one else was there.  No line - zip zero nada...... talk about easy !  We found our luggage and went outside to wait for the other 2 couples who were sharing a ride with Romecabs back to Albergo del Senato.  We stayed one night post cruise at this hotel and will do so again when we get back to Rome.  Picked up promptly on Saturday morning by Romecabs with a smooth dropoff at the airport.  Now, comes the sad part.....we then had to come home. OH well until our next trip ! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
We are just back from an amazing cruise!!  This was a "ladies" getaway for us without our husbands but we are all going on a cruise together in the Fall.  We are two ladies in our early 60's.  I had been on the Norwegian ... Read More
We are just back from an amazing cruise!!  This was a "ladies" getaway for us without our husbands but we are all going on a cruise together in the Fall.  We are two ladies in our early 60's.  I had been on the Norwegian Gem (didn't compare) with my husband last Fall and this was my friend's first cruise.We flew in from Philadelphia on US Air (which was packed and tight).  I hired Romecabs (Stefano) to pick us up as I had used them before on our last trip.  They were there waiting and I would recommend them highly.  We arrived at 8:45 AM and went directly to the port about an hour ride.We had about a 20 minute wait after we arrived before we were allowed on the ship which was great!  We were told to go right to the buffet which was very good and not too crowded- no problem finding a seat.  As rooms were not ready, we enjoyed sitting outside and relaxing with a cold drink.After an hour, we took a walk to locate our room and it was ready (Cabin 1275 midship in Concierge Class).  Our attendants were wonderful and actually went for our luggage right away so we could unpack.  Throughout the trip, they were great and on the 3rd day, I wrote a letter to guest relations about them (this is noted on their record and they will receive extra time off, etc, I was told).Our cabin was very nice with a normal size balcony with 2 chairs, ottomans, and a table.  Our beds were near the front of the cabin which worked fine althought it was tight getting into the closet.  Since we had the bed split into twins with a table in between, it probably took up more room than if the bed was left queen size.  The bathroom wasn't large but new and shiny clean.We had no complaints about the food at all.  In concierge class, you can order a full brakfast which we did on port days if we were leaving early.  Otherwise we had coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice delivered at 6:30 each morning as we are early risers.  The breakfast buffet was great and we never went to the main dining room for breakfast as we enjoyed the selection.The food was always good - especially the creme brulee and cheesecake!  Formal night was lovely and we really enjoyed the lobster!We thought the ship was beautiful and offered so much for everyone.  We attended one shopping lecture (we are shoppers and spent much time in every port shopping) plus a lecture on perfumes.  We only went to one show, a female vocalist and celebrity impersonator, who was wonderful.  We gambled a little in the slots each night and wound up even at the end of the cruise.  The bars and lounges were all nice although I found that the pomegrande martini's were not as good as I get at home- even at the martini bar.  We did not eat in the specialty restaurants but did eat at LeBistro for crepes 3 times which has a $5 cover charge- delicious!!  The only negativity we experience were with the shore excursions in Turkey.  Each tour manages to sneak in a carpet demonstration.  This is fine if you are interested but it should be an option.  In Kadashi, we  took the tour of the Turkish Towns and Villages- Sirince was amazing and you felt you were back a hundred years or so in time.  Tire was just okay.  We stopped at a charming restaurant on the way back.  Afterwards, we had an hour stop at another carpet company for another demonstration.  Several of us were very upset about this and after a half hour, they sent us back by a private van  to the ship.  After several letters back and forth to the shore excursion manager, we received 40% of the money back for the tour as we felt it wasted limited time and it was not noted correctly on the tour description.  However, they listened to our complains and resolved the issue nicely.We went to Santorini, Mykonos, and Sorrento (by ferry from Naples) on our own as we just wanted to stroll the streets and browse the shops.  In Istanbul and Athens, we booked tours.Disembartion was very organized.  Be sure to go to the lecture about it as the cruise director, Dru, made it fun!!  We left at 6 AM as we had an 11:15 AM flight.   We assembled in the MDR, and were free to leave after about 5 minutes.  Our luggage was waiting in the terminal. Once again, Romecabs was right there waiting.  This was a wonderful experience.  I spoke to several seasoned cruisers and they all agreed other ships would have a hard time to beat the Solstice!!  I did hear some complaints but they were so silly, it was ridiculous.  I hope to take a cruise again on it with my husband!!!  I loved it!!! Read Less
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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