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13 Celebrity Solstice Holiday Cruise Reviews

We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal ... Read More
We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival. We are Celebrity Elite level members. Here is the good and the not so good. Cabin Attendant – Excellent – Our cabin attendant (Gabriel) was superb. He was always efficient, smiling and helpful. Our departures were noted and our cabin made up immediately. Tenders – Excellent – Tenders were used at Isle de Pines and Mystery Island. On previous Celebrity cruises tenders have been a problem. On this cruise there were only short waits and even long queues moved quickly. The reason was simple – whoever was in charge used up to 7 lifeboats to provide a high frequency service from two boarding platforms. This was a problem from past cruises fixed – let us hope the same approach is adopted on other ships. Photo Shop – Poor – Bring your own camera and take your own photos. Avoid the photo packages. On previous Celebrity cruises the photo packages were good value by skilled photographers. On this cruise we felt there was no skill or art involved and the resulting photos were poor quality camera work such as parts of heads cuts off. Delays and stresses even getting the package USB on the last night suggested incompetence. Shuttle Bus – Excellent – Noumea – Often a problem on other cruises this, like the tender issue, was solved by whoever was in charge by having plenty of buses in Noumea running a high frequency service so there were no waits. Main dining room (Epernay) – Very Good – We had recently been on much higher priced Silversea and Oceania cruises. The food in the main dining room on Solstice was better than the main dining room on each of those cruise lines although not up to the standard of the speciality restaurants on those lines. Celebrity remains the best food in the mega ship market. Service in Main Dining – Excellent – Our waiters (Valentin and Iryna) were excellent and helpful. Seating in Main Dining – Poor – We are Elite Celebrity members but for some reason got about the worst table in the middle of the bottom level of the dining room. We used to get much better tables before we reached the Elite level. At no stage were we aware of the presence of a maitre d’. Coffee – Poor – The coffee throughout the ship is terrible. Café Bacio does not live up to the hype with poor service, attitude and coffee. Coffee was bitter and too hot. Children – Being an Australian school holiday cruise the ship had over 3000 passengers with lots of children (and prams). Most were well behaved but a few insisted upon pushing all the buttons in the lifts and gangs playing chasing games around the corridors on treasure hunts posed a hazard. Smoking – As non-smokers we were pleased that overall the smoking on board was only a minor inconvenience. Walking/Jogging Track – A design flaw of the Solstice is that the jogging track runs around a deck used for sun lounges and often during the day is hard to use because people put their sun lounges across the track. Whilst not as bad as on other cruises this was still an issue and the staff did not move sun lounges off the track. Sun Lounges – Most of the passengers being Australian it was shade rather than sun that was in demand. There were plenty of lounges available in the sun and sometimes in the shade. Unfortunately there was a lot of saving of lounges by passengers who rarely used them or who put belongings on adjoining lounges to stop them being used and give themselves extra space. This did not appear to be policed by the staff. Ocean View Buffet – Excellent – Huge and at times overcrowded it is usually possible to find something to eat from the wide range. The effort made for Christmas and New Year was spectacular and greatly appreciated. Sushi – Not Good – On previous Celebrity cruises Ocean View Café had reasonable sushi in the evening. Now that is gone. Instead there is only a Sushi café on level 5 which costs extra. Embarkation – Good - Surprisingly quick and efficient. On board 25 minutes after arriving at pier at 12.30pm. Unfortunately we were not then allowed off again that afternoon to spend any more time in Sydney and had not been warned this would be the case. Disembarkation – Good - At 6.40am there was a huge line for walk offs which commenced at 6.50am and went so quickly we were at Sydney airport at 7.20am. Itinerary – OK – Australia is a long way from anywhere which means too many days at sea. There were 6 days at sea and only 5 ports on this cruise. Cabin – Clean and functional the cabins are good for the price. Hygiene – Problem – Whilst there is hand washing lotion everywhere the system for obtaining beverages (sodas, water or alcoholic) seemed likely to be very efficient at spreading disease. You have to hand your seapass to a waiter who swipes it and hands it back and then does the same with someone else’s seapass and on it goes. The system needs to be contactless with the passenger simply waving their seapass. Beverage Packages – Poor – Even if the beverage package you purchase includes the type of drink available in your minibar you get charged again if you take it from the minibar. If your package includes Coke you cannot take the can of Coke from your minibar. Your package only allows you to get one drink at a time from a bar even if that drink is water or soft drink (and each time your seaspass is handled by a staff member who is handling lots of other seapasses and bottles and glasses handled by other passengers). At times the brand of bottled water sold was undrinkable. Internet – OK – Internet costs extra still unless some minutes are included in a deal or because of your status. Speed was fair. Security – As an Australian holiday period cruise there were a lot more passengers in the 20-40 age group than on other cruises, many of them appearing to consume vast amounts of alcohol. Given the amount of alcohol consumed security did a very good job of keeping it a safe cruise. It is certainly far safer than going out in an Australian capital city at night. Entertainment – Disappointing – Apart from Aussie Boys the acts and Celebrity in house entertainers were below the standard expected out of US ports. Movies – Some nights recent release movies were shown in Celebrity Central which is a comfortable cinema. Overall we were impressed. Christmas and New Year were made special which they have not been on some other cruises we have been on. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I was a cruise virgin until I spent 14 nights on the Solstice sailing from Sydney to Auckland and loved it! As a Brit, I loved the British entertainment crew - they made it for me. Seeing Santa in the Solstice theatre on Christmas ... Read More
I was a cruise virgin until I spent 14 nights on the Solstice sailing from Sydney to Auckland and loved it! As a Brit, I loved the British entertainment crew - they made it for me. Seeing Santa in the Solstice theatre on Christmas morning giving gifts to all the kids up the age of 17 was such a treat and made me feel so Christmassy even though I don't have kids myself. Had a wonderful dinner in the Epernay main dining room in the evening and the turkey and stuffing were cooked to perfection as always. New Years Eve was so lively with plenty going on that we didn't get to bed until around 4am! All of the staff were awesome and so attentive we were made to feel special All in all a great first cruise that I would definitely do again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We arrived in Auckland 3 days early to look around and was not disappointed it is a lovely place, come time to board the ship I was a little disappointed in the time and conditions that it took to get aboard very slow and very hot and ... Read More
We arrived in Auckland 3 days early to look around and was not disappointed it is a lovely place, come time to board the ship I was a little disappointed in the time and conditions that it took to get aboard very slow and very hot and uncomfortable , but once on board things started to change the cabin was great quite roomy and the décor was lovely very quite no noise at all even one rough night of weather and very little wind noise. The staff are fantastic right down to the lads that attend to the toilets they are so happy go lucky they truly enhance the trip our dining staff were so good I had my head waiter choose my meals for me and I was never disappointed. If I have a sour note I felt the entertainment left a bit to be desired the theatre shows were very average compared to other cruises that I have been on I walked out on three shows and I have never done that before, the smaller acts around the ships bars and so forth were quite good it was just the main entertainment. Specialty dinning was lovely Silks was a little spicy for my taste but the two others were great over all yes I would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Celebrity Solstice - Australia/New Zealand 12-23-2012 to 1/4/2013 12 night pacific cruise With over 20 cruises under my belt, I looked at this cruise as one of the ultimate cruises to go on. Coming from "The States", it is ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice - Australia/New Zealand 12-23-2012 to 1/4/2013 12 night pacific cruise With over 20 cruises under my belt, I looked at this cruise as one of the ultimate cruises to go on. Coming from "The States", it is not often that we get to travel so far. This was our first trip to Australia. This was also our first cruise on Celebrity. I had to say our expectations were pretty high for this trip. The cruise ship especially. In short, some areas surpassed while other areas fell short. Keep in mind that this was a holiday cruise with over 450 kids on the ship. Not the typical celebrity experience. Pre-cruise 12/19 We booked our cruise through a TA with insurance. We also booked our air through choice air. Choice air was very limiting for us. I would not use them again. Difficult to deal with when Qantas pulled out of Auckland for the LAX direct flight. You can get better deal going through the airlines directly. They also had changes without communication to us. Definitely no more Choice air for us. Since we were flying from Atlanta, we would most likely book Delta next time. Now, I have to say, the Qantas Airbus 380 was an amazing plane. We flew from ATL to LAX on delta. We stayed a night at the Marriott LAX. Wonderful hotel with free transfers. We did walk about 10 minutes to go to the In-and-out. Yum! We stayed a night in LA before our overnight flight to Sydney. 12/20 We got to rest up and enjoy some time in LA. We took the 10:00 flight out. Definitely pay for the upgrade to premium economy. It is worth it. Economy is a little bigger than our economy in the US, but still looked painful for a 15 hour flight. The service on the plane was fantastic. Could not asked for a better flight. It was a little bumpy during the night due to the airstreams, but still not bad. We skipped a day due to the international date line. 12/22 we landed in Sydney. We stayed at the Marriott Quay. (Pronounced "key") Very nice rooms. Easy access to everything in downtown Sydney. We booked the bridge climb a few months prior. The express climb, same climb, but less time to prep due to groups. An amazing experience that you should not pass up. We ate at Sydney Cafe. Wonderful view! Pricey. We rode the hop-on-hop off bus for a tour. We took the ferry over to the zoo and spent some time in the zoo. US credit cards were no issue. You also have Internet access in the hotel and at several of the coffee shops around. The hotel does have a US conversion power plug. The cruise ship is set up for the different types too. You will not need to buy one. 12/23 the hotel held our bags. We took a tour of the Opera House. You definitely need to see this. Amazing. If possible, book a show. There are 5 theaters in the opera house. Concert hall is the biggest, followed by the opera hall. There are three other smaller venues too. We got back to the hotel and took a cab over to the ship. It is a relatively short walk to the ship if everyone can carry their bags. Once we checked in at the ship... We went back out to finish our time in Sydney. 12/24 the ship was still in port. We took a full day excursion to the blue mountains. It is a long drive out to the mountains. It is very pretty. I reminded me of the blue ridge mountains. The steep train ride was fun. The view of the cliff, three sisters, etc was nice. Not sure if it was worth the price. I probably would of done more in the city. If you have not seen mountains, I would recommend it. If you have seen the Grand Canyon, then skip it. We got back late to the ship while the safety drill was going. This was not a problem since we booked through the cruise line directly. Since we missed the drill, we had to go down for a 20 minute presentation the next day. We left out and had a beautiful journey from the dock. The cruise.... The ship: Celebrity knows how to build unique and beautiful modern ships. The Solstice is in excellent maintenance. The carpets are in nice shape. Very little signs of wear and tear. The feel is very modern and crisp. Stateroom Our room was on the 11th floor - room 1596. Our other family members had the room next door 1594. This floor is the Aqua class. We actually received the upgrade as a very nice gift from our family. There are no kids on this deck. You get free access to Blue dining room. You get daily water and teas in your room daily. Special soaps etc. You also get access to the front spa relaxation room at the front of the ship on the same floor. The rooms were not any bigger than the standard balconies. Is it worth it, maybe for some. You do not get any discounts for the spa. You get a nice coupon book with some goodies in it though. We used the discounted laundry service twice. The storage in the room is pretty good. There are other ships with more storage from a room this size. The interactive system on the TV is the best. Lots of recently released movies that are free and available. The balconies are larger on this ship. Nice balcony with table, 2 adjustable chairs with footrests. The view is a little limited for this floor due to the overhang that goes across. Good coverage for rain though. When you are taking photos, it can get in your way. Noise in the rooms are less due to no kids. The only problem is the pool deck is above you. There will be foot traffic and sliding chairs during the early evening and mornings. Not real bad, but if this bothers you, you may want to move down a floor or two. Deck 11 is the top floor for rooms. The bump outs in the aqua class may be a better choice if you do not want the obstruction. Our room attendant was amazing, one of the best. No issues there. This met my standards for the aqua class on Celebrity. Dining rooms Ocean View cafe - this is their version of the Lido/Windjammer. This is one area that Celebrity let me down. There was no difference from this versus the many other cruise lines out there. Service was lacking here. I wish cruise lines would improve this area. They need to learn from Disney on this. Allure of the Seas is the only other ship that seemed to master this. Wait times for special foods could be reduced with more staffing. Clean-up and table service cold be improved also with more employees. They do have a bar in here so you can get quick access. We purchased a soda card. We got cans of soda with ease directly from the bars. Line cutting here seems to be a little bit of problem. You can stand there and be the next in line, yet someone walks up and they take care of them first. Come on Celebrity, you are better than that! Improve your table service. More people making drinks and more people serving drinks would help. Also, the employees here do not seem to be very happy. I saw several times where employees were arguing with other employees. That is not good. Work as a team folks. Food quality was pretty good. Best pizza out of all the major lines. Wow! Pasta bar is great, but the service is very slow. Great salads! More variety with desserts. Great ice cream and gelatos! The oriental chicken need to be improved. The fajitas are good, but you need better taco meat etc. Please improve your Mexican food station. Much better with Allure. Blue dining room - not impressed. Service was severely lacking. You had to wait to be seated during the busier times. It is all first come first serve with different servers that are killed with several tables. One time, we asked three times for a drink. This is the worse part of the ship in my view. It should be a highlight. A star for those who book Aqua Class or Suites. I got an excuse that it was due to the different cultures eating at different times than the western cultures. Adapt, compromise, adjust... Staff up and fix this. The food was better in the main dining room. Main dining room - wonderful. Charles was our matre'd. He was fantastic. He worked us in with some amazing servers. You would ask for something flexible, and they would not blink. They would serve it. Wow. Wonderful service that met my expectations of Celebrity. The food quality was very good. The drink service was fantastic. No issues here. Specialty Restaurants - wonderful choices. Our favorite that we ate at twice was The Tuscan. It is an Italian inspired steak house. These Omaha steaks were absolutely amazing. Cooked to order with perfection every time. When the place got busy, the service did from down some. Samuel, the manager, took care of anything we needed. Alexander was a terrific server. Need more dessert options. Bar service - overall, the bar service is pretty good. Easy access to drinks. The Ocean View cafe was the only area that needed improvement with this. Shopping - the shopping choices are pretty good. It is catered to the bigger spender. There are not many t-shirts, candy etc options. The art shows is a big part of the cruise. Your typical park west art auctions. Here is the deal, if you want to buy art... Just talk to them directly. They will bring out what they have and make you a deal. The best art we got were not purchased during the auctions. If they know you are serious, they will go out of their way to help you. Pools - easy access to pools and towels. You do not need to sign out for towels. They have plenty of them. The solarium is very nice. There are plenty of spas. The pools are well kept and open almost all of the time. Spa - pretty standard like all of the other cruise lines. The views in the massage rooms are not like Disney Dream or Allure/Oasis. Embarkation Easy process at the Sydney port. You check your bags. Tipped a few dollars. Walked in. The lines were not bad. Since we had two days in port, guests getting on the ship were spread out over the few days. Gratuities for the cruise were taken out each day as a daily rate. Not one big payment. Aussies do not tip typically. You need to stick with the auto deposit, pay the folks directly the same or more, or take Carnival that has a no tipping policy for their Australian cruises. These people live on tips. Seas were calm all cruise long. Even when we had larger waves, the stabilizers worked extremely well. No issues at all going over the Tasman Sea. Sea Day after embarkation - Formal night #1 Melbourne - pronounced Melbin. A very modern city. We took a tour of the city and the Animal Preserve. Great stop. Up close to the signature animals. Puffing Billy was a great train ride. Lots of flies at the winery lunch and visit. 2 Sea Days - Enjoyed the ship! Relaxed. Spa visit. Fjords and Sounds Day - Have your camera ready. Reminded me of Scotland and Alaska combined. Beautiful pictures - postcard views. Weather will vary, but still beautiful. Dunedin - pronounced "dun eat'n". A Scottish based city that we really enjoyed. We took a tour of the city, including the walk of the steepest street in the world - Baldwin St. A visit to the Botanical Gardens was nice. We booked a private tour through the Cadbury Factory in town. Wonderful. Lots of free Chocolate. The price was $16.00 each - somewhere around there. Book online ahead of time. It gets busy. Arkoa - (however you spell it) the replacement tender spot for Christchurch. The only tender spot. One of the prettiest port stops on the cruise. We took the very long bus ride up through the mountains. Lots of beautiful views. Then we travelled into the Alps. Saw a sheep show and ate lunch at a old ranch. We rode the train back down the mountain. Hobbits, Lord of the Rings, and Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe were filmed in these areas. Outstanding, but long day. Nice little town at the port to visit. Wellington - This is a very modern city. They are very proud of The Hobbit movie here. I believe the studios are nearby this town. We toured the city. The cable car up the side of the mountain was nice. This was followed up with a visit to Zealandia. A sort of Jurassic park that is trying to recapture what life was like before humans arrived. Great photo opportunities for nature and rare animals. Another nice day at sea. (Formal night #2 - only two for this cruise.) Tauranga - Our last day was a trip to the countryside to ride a jet boat! What a blast we had! You must do the river jet boat ride if you want a fun thrill. Everyone had so much fun. Kiwi capital of the world here. Lots of Kiwi all over. This is a retirement and vacation community with lots of beaches nearby. Lots of things to do here. I wish we had more time here. Auckland and debarkation - Our end to the cruise. Debarkation was very smooth. No issues. All sorts of options for times etc. Easy customs process. Luggage service was fine. the best part is that we stayed in the Hilton Hotel. The Hilton Hotel shares the same building as the terminal. You walk out. Take a right. Walk about 50 steps. You are at your hotel! Very pricey, but nice. Ask for the conversion if you need it. The wall outlet conversion in 220. the can give you a 110 transformer if you need one. Safer for smaller appliances. Auckland was a beautiful town. We went to the Japanese steak house across the street from the Ferry Building. The hotel service was top notch. Easy access to cabs for a ride the airport. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the airport. Early morning may only take 25-30 minutes. The airport process went smooth. Amazing international terminal with lots of shops in Sydney. We flew back to LAX via Sydney. Gained back a day. First time in my life where I left at 6:00 am on a Saturday, flew 22 hours (flights and holds), and arrive the same day at 6:20 am on the same Saturday. We stayed at the Marriott LAX again. We took a $25.00 cab ride to Manhattan Beach. We ate at an amazing restaurant called Rock'n Fish. Say hello to Matt for me. Tell him the Clemson folks from GA referred you. Matt is the GM for the location. Best seafood on the entire trip. Wonderful atmosphere. Please e-mail me if you have any questions. This is a once in a life time trip for most. Enjoy it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We were in cabin 1067 port side in a concierge class room. The room is a good size with the bed near king size and plenty of storage. We had 3 large bags (23kg each - packed way too many clothes) but by utilising the cupboard over the ... Read More
We were in cabin 1067 port side in a concierge class room. The room is a good size with the bed near king size and plenty of storage. We had 3 large bags (23kg each - packed way too many clothes) but by utilising the cupboard over the bed we managed to stow everything. Our cabin stewards were excellent and the room always looked like we had just arrived - which was a totally new experience compared to some cruises we have been on. On a side note if you are intending to do the NZ cruise then I would suggest getting a cabin starboard side as in Sydney and Auckland the boat docked port side meaning you didn't get the best view. One other thing is the entertainment system in the cabin, there are over 20 free movies on demand along with your standard fare of TV programs, you can also order breakfast on it but don't get carried away. FOOD The quality and selection in the main dinning room were great and I didn't have a bad meal. Were on Select Dining and never had to wait for a table. I was surprised that on Lobster night you get a whole tail which is removed form its shell table side by your waiter. This was far better than those little nuggets that you get served on other cruise lines. The cafe had a huge selection and whilst it can get busy at peak times we were never not able to find a table. POOL Reasonable size and depth and if it was cold there was an indoor one you could use. On the two peak/busy sunny days it was still possible to find a lounge at mid-day and there didn't appear to be any lounge hogging that I could see. STAFF The staff would generally go out of their way to make your trip memorable. At first I did notice some seemed disconnected but after a smile and greeting them by their name they became animated and friendly and go out of their way to service you when you next met them. On a couple of occasions I encountered some of passengers displaying a sense of entitlement and being generally rude to staff which could explain why some of the staff appear down. Generally the passengers being rude were the older traveller who should have known better. ENTERTAINMENT The nightly shows were of a high standard and during the day there were numerous activities so if you get bored on this ship then you are not getting out enough. COMMUNICATIONS Wifi is available in the room at rates starting at 75c/m. The connection wasn't good enough to hold a skype call and should you need to make a call using your mobile on the Cellular at Sea network (Celebrity Network) then expect to pay $8/minute or for mobile data $18/Mb. BARS Whether you like your poison in a dark lounge or up on deck there is a bar for you. We had the premium drink package which more than paid for itself and it was great to just hand over the card and not have to worry. We tried a number of things we would not normally have done like the various teas and coffees at the cafe and little things like sparkling water with dinner and a vitamin water to take back to the cabin to help start the day. Overall a great ship and we will be back on her sometime soon Here is a little slide show of our experience: http://youtu.be/SDwNNR_D3GQ Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Our 3rd Celebrity Cruise and 2nd time on the Solstice. Flew in the night before. Boarding was on time, rapid and painless. Excellent cabin on the hump with a very large balcony. Great, efficient service by our room steward throughout the ... Read More
Our 3rd Celebrity Cruise and 2nd time on the Solstice. Flew in the night before. Boarding was on time, rapid and painless. Excellent cabin on the hump with a very large balcony. Great, efficient service by our room steward throughout the cruise. Ate in the MDR on all nights in the late seating. Again, great service by our waiter and assistant waiter with professional and efficient service. Food quality varied with some great dishes and some just average. Many more young children on board, almost certainly because it was a holiday cruise. The cruise line never enforced the adults only rule for one of the outdoor pools so we generally stayed in the covered pool area which was quiet. Got to meet the new ship's master, Captain Gerry, during a sail away bridge tour offered during this cruise for $75.00. Captain Gerry had joined the ship this cruise, but has been Master of several other S class ships. For the bridge tour about 20 of us came on the bridge before sail away from St. Maarten, got to watch the Master brief the officers and then got to watch the Staff Captain maneuver the ship out of port. The ship's master spent 45 minutes with us answering questions about the ship and Celebrity. A great experience. The on board musical groups, including the ship's orchestra, were generally excellent. The specialty acts ranged from a great juggler, to a really terrible singer/mimic. The only comedian on board was there for one night at 12 MN. During the "liar's club" ship activity the Staff Captain revealed himself as an excellent "straight man" comedian. The ship's Master played his guitar and sang during the last night show and had a great voice. We were late getting into San Juan and arrived a dusk due to high winds. We toured on our own in San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Martin and had a great time. We took the ship sponsored Zip Line tour in St. Kitts and I highly recommend it. The Solstice has had problems with gastroenteritis/noro virus outbreaks this year. During the cruise immediately preceding ours, the ship was on "lock down" and guests could not touch utensils in the Buffet. We had no such restrictions on our cruise. Unfortunately during the last night of the cruise (Christmas Day), one of my family members developed severe GI distress. I was informed by the responding nurse practitioner that there had been an outbreak of many cases of GI distress that night, and that 3 separate medical teams were responding throughout the ship. Needless to say this made disembarkation particularly difficult. I wonder if the latest GI outbreak was due to noro virus or food poisoning. In any case this seems to be a recurring problem on the ship and needs to be dealt with. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
One more wonderful cruise vacation came to its end, so nice to know that there will be more.... This was our seventh cruise with Celebrity and the second Mediterranean one. When in port, we always do our own thing because of the two ... Read More
One more wonderful cruise vacation came to its end, so nice to know that there will be more.... This was our seventh cruise with Celebrity and the second Mediterranean one. When in port, we always do our own thing because of the two obvious reasons: Cost and itinerary, we pay less, usually half the ship land tour cost and we see and learn more, much more. One have to spend a lot of time looking at the options and for the pitfalls ... Thanks heavens for the internet and cruisecritic.com. Those who do not have the time or the inclination to organize such tours, those who do not mind sharing a tour bus with a crowd of 45 fellow passengers, those who do not want to spend time looking through the long list of land tours, Celebrity offers two packages of 6 shore excursions each, one for half day tours at each port and the other is for a full day tours, cost was $371.50 and $732.50 respectively. For those who do want to do their own thing, we describe what we added a day by day description and added some website addresses that can help. Here and there we expressed our opinion about the Solstice. On this cruise we used one of our Celebrity Open Passages, a voucher we purchased on our last cruise. The Open passage is a $100 voucher you buy aboard a Celebrity cruise ship to be used when making the next reservation. The $100 voucher is used as a down payment for the next cruise and entitles you and two more couples for an on board credit of $100 to $300 per Cabin depending on the length of the cruise. This time we and our friends got $200 On board credit per cabin. The concept was applied first only for the US and Canada but became available for other countries last January. Guess this is why my travel agent did not know what to do with the vouchers and we had to ask Celebrity customer relations to sort things out for us. Read more about the Open Passage: http://creative.rccl.com/Sales/Celebrity/General_Info/Flyers/11022582_CEL_Passages.pdf One thing before we begin: The Crew members on the Solstice are fantastic in every respect. May I tell you a story: We met few hotel directors onboard Celebrity cruise ships, the hotel director are in charge of most of the Celebrity employs aboard the ship. The hotel managers we met were kind people, not at all the army commander's type I expected. So, I asked one of them how do the run such an operation with out being tough on the crew, and the reply was: The secret is in recruiting the right people, people who are geared to give others good service with a smile, Well, it works! Tue Oct 11th 2011- We left the Barcelona International airport terminal at noon, no need to take the cruise ship transportation as there is always a long line of yellow and black taxis waiting out side the terminal. The drivers speak only Spanish, but they understand "Cruise Ship" and "Celebrity". In twenty minutes and for 30-35Eu the taxi will take up to 4 passengers and will take you all the way to the port and up to the terminal doors. Look at: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/transport/barcelona-cruise-port.html In the terminal there were no lines and many reps were waiting for passengers, we got our Sea Cards and went right away to our Cabin. As this was our fourth time in Barcelona we decided to stay on the ship. On past cruises we took the bus from the terminal to La Rambla Ave. for a quick stroll. We had a nice Tuna Steak lunch at the Spa Coffee and had some rest before the unavoidable drill. Dinner, early seating, had table for four as we asked to be sited with our friends. Marlin and Ali were our attentive waiters. After dinner: A show. Bits and pieces of what one can expect on next evenings shows. The theater on the Solstice is nice but we prefer the theaters on the Celebrity Millennium class ships, as they have more legroom and little tables for each couple. Few words about our Cabin: We were lucky as the two of us got one of the four family cabins measured 600sq feet, with two bedrooms, large living room and large balcony (8108). Our friends got similar cabin but it was on the same level as the Helipad and got a smaller balcony (7107). For the best cabins on the Solstice look at: http://cruiseadvice.org/celebrity-cruises/celebrity-solstice/cabin-selection Wed. Oct 12th -â€" Sea day: 06:00am: As always I went to the Gym early. I go there almost every day during the cruise while my love takes a walk along the 1000ft long track on deck 14. 10:00am: A get together party for the Cruise Critic members. It was also time to meet the 12 guys who will go with us on the self organized day tour in Malta. And help a second group to find a four more people to share the cost of the tour. 17:00: The Elite Captains Club daily happy hour (Actually two hours), Cocktails, beers and soft drinks for free and a chance to meet people who love cruising and prefer to cruise with the specific company. Gabriela, the lady responsible for the Captain Club activities was always there making sure all is working fine. A word about the Elite Captains Club goodies: It is a good idea to join the club right after the first cruise. You get credits for every cruise you go on; number of credits is a function of cruise length and type of cabin. Once you have enough credits, I think nine credits is the magic number, Celebrity gives you a lot of goodies: The happy hour with free drinks in the Sky Lounge, Light breakfast with real coffee in Michael's Club, three hours free internet per cabin worth hundred dollars and 60 items of laundry, 4 items for ironing, couple dry cleaning items and more. Because of the free laundry we bring fewer items from home and save luggage weight, which means more room for presents for the grandchildren. A sea day is a good opportunity to look at the culinary options they got on board the Solstice: A ward of advice, if you find it hard to control the amount of food you put on your plate at the buffet style Sea Side Cafe, go for breakfast at the Grand Epernay. Here you are being served by waiters and what you ask for is what you get... You can also have lunch here on sea days. In the Solstice ships they have the buffet style food served on "Islands" and they do not have trays, people are wondering back and forth to their table as they can carry so many plates and drinks on one trip. And the restaurant looks busy and crowded. I do not like that. Thursday Oct. 13th: Rome. Took the 07:30 train from Civitavecchia to Rome. You first take the free shuttle bus to the port gate and than follow the signs to the train station. Train station is less than 10 minutes walk from the port's gate, just follow the signs. By the way, they opened a ticket booth right next to the port gate, save you some time. Buy 9Eu return BIRG ticket that allow you free all day ride on all public transport in Rome, Do not forget to validate your ticket before going on board the train. This ticket is good only for the Regionale train company. Our friends had tickets for the Vatican tour and got off the train near the Vatican while we went all the way to Termini station and took the underground line A to the Piazza Di Spagnia. There we took the 11:00 o'clock Free Tour to the Vatican City. Purchase tickets ahead of time on the internet for the main sights in Rome; Lines are unbelievably long, even when it is out of season. The free tour we took was just OK. We had couple of tours with them a year ago and the guides were very good. This time the guide seemed to be in a hurry. We arrived exhausted to the Vatican City. Here we met our friends and leisurely walked back going through Vittorio Emanuel Bridge, Campo de Fiorri, Piazza Navona, Trevi's fountain and back to the Piazza Spagnia. We took the 15:39 train back from Termini. It was a good idea to return to Termini and take the train from there as the train gets very crowded on next stations. It can be a very long 80 minutes ride standing up after all the walking one does in Rome. Find a train from Civitavecchia to Rome: http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ad1ce14114bc9110VgnVCM10000080a3e90aRCRD Tickets for the Coliseum and the Vatican: http://www.italy-museum.com/ Tickets for the Borghese museum: http://www.galleriaborghese.it/info-en.htm The free walking tours: http://www.romefreetour.com/free%20tour.html Friday Oct. 14th: Naples. Last time we rented a car and drove along the Amalfi coast. This time we took the Hydrofoil to Capri. It was a 30 minutes, 17 EU each way very bumpy ride. Crew members were ready with plastic bags handing them to those passengers who felt sick. Hydrofoil terminal in Naples is few minutes walk from the ship. We decided to buy our return ticket when in Capri and not to restrict ourselves to specific company or time of return by buying a return ticket (the cost is the same) Weather was cloudy and cool, the Chair lift from Ana Capri to Monte Solare did not work that day due to weather condition, so we decided to go along with an advice we got from a local guy and took the bus from Marina Grande up the hill to Capri's city center and walked from there through the beautiful streets to the Arco Naturale, the natural rock arch and than took 500 stairs down to the trail that follows the shore and led us back into Capri. Beautiful and very quiet hike, no tourists on this trail. A note: The Blue grotto was closed too. But we did not plan on going there any how. We believe the 30 seconds visit inside the grotto does not worth it. Had a pizza in one of the Marina Grande restaurants and a very good hot chocolate. The Hydrofoil ride back was not too rough. No need for plastic bags.... Tomorrow, another day at sea. Hydrofoil to Capri time table: http://www.capri.net/en/ferry-schedule?path_id=11 Saturday Oct 17th: Sea day: Time to rest, read a good book from the ship library, relax on the balcony or next to the pool, or better yet, at one of the many romantic secluded places aboard the ship. We always wondered how is it possible that there are 3000 passengers aboard the ship and still one can find so many quite places like the Sky lounge, Michael's club, the higher decks, the library and the game room, the cinema etc. Problem was, Sea was rough. My wife stayed in bed feeling awful while I enjoyed every minute of the rollercoaster???? ride. Yes, it is a big ship, yes they got computer controlled stabilizers, but still, and the ship went up and down with those huge waves. A note: According to the ship first officer, best cabins for stormy weather will be the cabins located mid ship lower decks. Thought you should know before going on your next cruise. Sunday, Oct 16th: Athens. There is always some one on strike here in Greece, This time, the museums' guards. That is why the Acropolis was closed to public. Last time we took the train from Piraeus to Athens. Was very easy and cheap ride. This time we arrived to Athens using the HoHo bus. It is a 22EU all day ride with commentary in 11 languages. Busses are located right next to the port terminal. We decided on going to the Acropolis new museum. Very good and informative visit, every thing here is both in Greek and English (5Eu pp). Then we went on the 90 minutes ride with the HoHo bus, plus a little self guided tour of the city, and than, as it started to rain we took the HoHo bus back to Piraeus and the ship. The Hop on Hop off bus: http://www.citysightseeing.gr/blue-and-red-route/ The Acropolis new Museum: http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr Strikes in Athens: http://livingingreece.gr/strikes/ Monday, Oct 17th: Mykonos. If you are interested in Archeology, than a boat trip to the near by Delos Island is something for you. Just keep in mind that the whole island of Delos is considered a museum, and it is closed on Mondays, The only way to visit the island on Monday is with an expensive ship tour as they open the Island especially for ship tours. We took the 10$ (Return) shuttle into town. This was our second time in Mykonos and we just followed the same walking tour rout we did last time, using our IPod. It was windy and rather cold, so we went back to the ship for a Jacuzzi and a Sauna. (We like the Sauna on the Millennium class ships better as they have a huge window facing the open sea) Self guided walking tours: http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0602/podcast-faq.htm Tuesday, Oct 18th: Kusadasi Turkey. We did not go ashore, so, had the whole ship to our self.... a spoiling experience.... Friday, Oct 19th: Santorini. What a beautiful sunny day! Three options to go from the port to Fira: You can climb 600 stairs; you can ride a mule for 5Eu or do as we did: We took the 4Eu Cable car up to Fira, and from there we took the bus to Oia. There is a bus every 20 minutes, you get in, find a seat and a conductor gets on the bus somewhere on the way to collect the few cents this 25 minutes ride costs. Oia is the place all those postcards pictures are taken. There is no need for a guide, just walk around the town and enjoy the view. After returning to Fira and walking along the streets that were so crowded with tourists from the four cruise ships that were in the port, we found out that waiting in the line for the Cable car that goes down to the port will take about an hour and a half, so we went down the 600 stairs, it took us around 20 minutes including avoiding the mules and their manure on the way down. Santorini bus from Fira to Oia: http://www.ktel-santorini.gr/ Friday Oct 21st: Valletta, Malta The guides, Vince De-Bono and Louise were already there, waiting for us, when we left the boat. It was 07:00 am, still dark but there was a long day ahead, full with interesting sites: The old town of Mdina, an artisan village, a Neolithic temple, a boat ride to the Blue Grotto, Marssa Xlokk fishermen's Village, Valletta with the impressive St John Cathedral and so more. Vince is very knowledgeable guide and a very kind and eager to please person, very enthusiastic when the knights' period is discussed. Both groups had a wonderful day in Malta. The tour was organized using the thread on Cruise Critic web site. It was a 400Eu for 12p plus the cost of the boat ride (7 Eu, and the ticket for St John Cathedral ($4.60Eu) and the tip. In short, very well spent $70 per person. Thank you Vince! (Hope you liked the wine we brought you from our home country) Touring Malta with a guide: http://www.guideinmalta.com/ HoHo Bus in Malta: http://www.maltasightseeing.com/ Scenic Flights over Malta (But read the cancelation policy before making reservations): http://www.harbourairmalta.com/harbourair/content.aspx?id=45136 Walking tour of Valletta: http://www.geovative.com/GeoTours/tourView.asp?6174Vq=JEHH Saturday Oct. 22nd: Day at sea. Had time to make 500 pictures PowerPoint Show of the whole trip, even added music to the show and made copies for those couples who went on the Malta day trip with us. Had fun working on my laptop, seating in the balcony with the sea right there. Wish I had my office in such a location. Sunday, Oct 23rd: Arriving to Barcelona. Got off the ship around 08:00am. Again, no need for ship expensive transportation to the airport as there is always long line of taxis waiting for you right there at the port terminal. What next? While on board, we purchased four (4!) Celebrity Open Passages as we plan to go on Back to Back cruises either to South America and/or to New Zealand and Australia with as many as 5 more couples and we want them all to enjoy the $600 on board credit for the two long B to B cruises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Have been back over a month now and thought it high time I put in my review. Here goes ; Solstice Med cruise 12 nights starting 5th Sept All travel arrangements were made via Celebrity and although more expensive there is the ... Read More
Have been back over a month now and thought it high time I put in my review. Here goes ; Solstice Med cruise 12 nights starting 5th Sept All travel arrangements were made via Celebrity and although more expensive there is the comfort factor of Celebrity making sure you get to the ship and the coach waiting for you when you arrive. Flew from Glasgow to Amsterdam then on to Barcelona and then the coach to pick us up. Absolutely no problems with this and luggage arrived the same time as we did. We had booked a Celebrity suite but a couple of weeks before the cruise we had been upgraded to a Royal Suite and it was fab. Big lounge and dining area plus an additional guest bathroom which my sister commandeered and the best bathroom at sea we have had so far. Double sinks, walk in Shower and Jacuzzi bath. The Balcony also had a Jacuzzi on it and this was put to really good use especially after a long day off the ship when we could just relax with a glass of bubbly. Very nice indeed. We did not experience any overt noise from the resort deck apart from some music during the day which in no way spoiled our cruise or enjoyment of the balcony . George was our butler and he was most courteous and professional in his manner. We did not ask too much of him only that we got those little fruit tartlets with afternoon tea (even left them on the days we were not in the cabin).He also arranged our speciality dining requests but other than that we did not have any other little jobs for him to do apart from a couple of early morning breakfasts in the suite. Dining in general ranged from good to very good in the MDR although I did find the wine service a bit hit and miss as we all had the premium drinks package we had to flag down the waiter to get a refill. As we were on select dining we could not sort this out for the rest of cruise as we dined in different parts of the dining room .My one real complaint is the very poor cheeseboard in the evening (same stuff as you get in the buffet in the morning ) . I have suggested that they offer the cheeseboard that you can get in Murano for an additional supplement for those that wish to have this but still have the standard cheese plate for those that do not wish to select their cheese .I know that some people will not like this but if it means getting a better quality selection then so be it. The speciality restaurants were as good as ever and I would always go back to Murano and Tuscan grille at the drop of a hat. We dined in Tuscan Grill when leaving Villefranche and because of the picture windows it was lovely to see all the twinkling lights (and thats before the wine had kicked in! ). We ate breakfast in Blu as we were allowed this due to being in a suite . And by the way we had no difficulties in arranging this whatsoever . We did not dine in Blu in the evening as my sister is a very plain eater and the menu did not appeal to her. But we were asked if we wanted to dine in the evening by the head waiter so cannot understand why some people have had difficulties on this score. Entertainment is I feel the one area that Celebrity needs to work on. Some of the shows in the theatre are dated and there was not one comedian on board for the cruise. The majority of the passengers were English speaking so I do not think this was anything to do with language barriers etc. Some of the other groups were fine but if you have been on a Celebrity cruise before you will get the feeling that you have seen them all before. Premium drinks package worked really well for us. It was great not to have a bar bill at the end and as we enjoyed the Martini bar it was nice to try different drinks and if you did not like them well try something else then! Will definitely do this again on our next cruise. The overall cruise was one of our better ones due to the company that we met and also the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Having cruised with the same compay 6 times around the Caribben and Hawaii we decided to cruise closer to home so having heard how good Celebrity Equinox was we thought we'd try a Solstice Class ship! We flew from Leeds and the ... Read More
Having cruised with the same compay 6 times around the Caribben and Hawaii we decided to cruise closer to home so having heard how good Celebrity Equinox was we thought we'd try a Solstice Class ship! We flew from Leeds and the flights/transfers were booked through Celebrity and although it all worked out fine on departure day and disembarkation that was the only 'downside' to our trip......not as organised as it should have been for a premium line. We hit the check-in at peek time so had a 45 minute wait in a queue which we've never experienced before but one of those things! Once onbaord it was a treat to be met with a glass of bubbly then we went to find our cabin, no maps to follow but we found it quite easily and were impressed as it was slightly larger than the balcony staterooms we'd had before, a nice seating area and all laid out well with good decor. The bathroom was the best yet experienced on a ship (and many hotels!) plenty of space for our toiletries and a glass door and a mirror which didn't steam up! Off to explore, the ship is lovley and classy decor not in the traditional dark colours of many, lots of spaces to sit and take in the atmosphere and it didn't feel like a large ship at all. We had 'select dining' as we like to dine when the fancy takes us rather than a set time, we made a reservation a couple of times but always got a table and never had to wait whatever time we decided to dine. We dined in 'Tuscan Grille' one of the speciality restaurants and had a fantastic meal, but the meals in the MD were good and always hot and served with a smile and great service. We were impressed with the buffet for breakfast and lunch, lots of choices but the same each day, a slight variation or theme day would have been nice but this is not a complaint just an observation. The staff were some of the most pleasant I have ever encounterd and always willing to chat when you were out and about. The entertainment was good, a variety of shows but I feel this is the hardest area to please people, but I go if it's soemthing I enjoy and do something else if it's not to my taste. The daily programme of events wasn't thrust down your throat which is a bonus and we particularly enjoyed our evening of 'Celestial Navigation' under the stars. A thoroughly enjoyable cruise made so by such a great choice of ship and we will be cruising with Celebrity again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My new husband and I (we got married in St. Thomas on this cruise!) sailed on the Solstice at the beginning of May. It was a wonderful trip. We travelled with my parents who are normally Carnival cruisers and I've sailed with various ... Read More
My new husband and I (we got married in St. Thomas on this cruise!) sailed on the Solstice at the beginning of May. It was a wonderful trip. We travelled with my parents who are normally Carnival cruisers and I've sailed with various cruise lines prior to this trip. We stayed at the Il Lugano hotel in Fort Lauderdale pre cruise - about 30USD taxi fare from the airport. Beautiful hotel with wonderful staff! In order to get to the ship we used the free shuttle within 5 miles to meet my parents at the Best Western Oakland Park just a few mins away and got a shuttle for 20USD along with them. The Best Western came with free shuttle service from the airport and back to the ship for guests and full breakfast! We did see the pool and it was quite large! Definitely a great value for pre-cruisers. Embarkation at the dock was smooth and easy. Our cabin on deck 10 was beautiful as far as staterooms go with the balcony having a couple of chairs with foot stools and a table big enough to eat breakfast on! The added touch of fresh flowers and plusher towels that came with the concierge class was quite nice. PS. Don't stay on deck 3 - my parents had an oceanview room complimented by lots of machinery and other noise from below.... The food was great! We ate...alot - everywhere from the spa cafe to the buffet to room service to the Tuscan Grill and the Harvest Silk restaurant. The Oceanview Cafe allowed for great people flow and tons of selection! For me gluten free is important and there was always gluten free bread to be found along with many options that were gluten free + there were lots of crew around to ask questions about ingredients. I was told there was gluten free pasta available although I didn't look for it. Gluten free dining in the main dining room and specialty restaurants was quite easy. I pre-ordered the night before for all the dining options and at the Harvest Silk restaurant they judged as we placed the order. The waiters in all the restaurants we dined at were great! I enjoyed the musicians in the various bars and lounges throughout the ship but the theatre shows were just ok. I haven't seen anything that compares to a trip on the Norwegian Sun in 2001. The ship is very large and even with all the staterooms sold out it didn't seem crowded. Seemed like there was always lots of crew around keeping things in tip top shape. They all seemed happy and always willing to help. What a bunch of comedians too! My mom and I had hair and makeup done at the spa for my wedding - did have to bring my own makeup - but we were pretty happy :) My mom had several spa treatments and loved them all - she's an avid spa go-er and was quite pleased. Our only real complaint was the lack of good strong filtered coffee. There is a coffee bar on board for purchasing espresso drinks but their regular supposed filtered coffee/mixture really was pretty awful most days! Overall the cruise was wonderful. We all loved it and the ports we visited. We didn't take in any ship sold tours and only wandered San Juan and St. Maarten. St. Thomas we had arranged for transportation to Magens Bay for our wedding and enjoyed the beach afterward. Can't wait to sail again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We sailed on the Celebrity Solstice for the second year in a row for New Years. We traveled with 3 other couples who have done the same. Overall it was a good cruise, but compared to last year, last year was better. Why? too many kids on ... Read More
We sailed on the Celebrity Solstice for the second year in a row for New Years. We traveled with 3 other couples who have done the same. Overall it was a good cruise, but compared to last year, last year was better. Why? too many kids on the ship and no parents at all to watch or control them. The security staff on the ship no way enforced the rules of "Adults Only" in the solarium pool area as well as the late night comedian and the bars. I would recommend the rules being enforced and changed to 18 years or older only. Individuals in the suites and Aqua Class such as ourselves should have priority for tables and sitting on New Years Eve around the outside pool and deck area where the New Years party was held. And again NO ONE UNDER 18. There should be more security concerning out of control teenagers and there should be NO GLASS of any kind used upon the deck during the New Years Eve party. Other than these few issues, our stateroom attendant was excellent as always, room service very good and on time, the ladies in the Aqua Spa were great, and the Blu Restaurant and Waiter were outstanding. The food and service excellent overall. Need to consider adding a sports bar where there is room to sit and watch the ball games. Too many people crowded into the Casino to watch the games and not enough room to accommodate. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We flew to Rome on Monday and spent three nights there. Then we were escorted to the Port of Rome for our ten day trip. The ship is so beautiful. It was the 11th cruise my husband and I have taken and this was the most beautiful ship of ... Read More
We flew to Rome on Monday and spent three nights there. Then we were escorted to the Port of Rome for our ten day trip. The ship is so beautiful. It was the 11th cruise my husband and I have taken and this was the most beautiful ship of all. Our cabin had a balcony, which we have gotten use to inn the last 5 cruises. The staff was excellent. We had wonderful bathrobes waiting in our closet. The bathroom was large and every well accomadated. The nicest one we have found so far. The bed was very comfortable. Overall we loved this ship. The food was excellent. Reviews on this board had us worried about the food. But, it seems they have gotten a new chef from France recently and he did a wonderful job. Each night we were able to have escargot if we wanted it. We had duck, lobster, lamb, prime rib, etc. The portions were huge. The salads were very unique each evening. One thing, you did not get to eat in the dinning room at lunch. That was different for us. But, the buffett was the best I have ever seen. The selections were excellent and I am sure no one went hungry. For the first time ever I did not mind eating at the buffett. The entertainment was no so good. The usual type of entertainment and nothing to rave about. The ports were great. Ephesus was the main attraction. We chose a private tour for that as well and Athens. Used the ship's shore excursions for all other ports. The tours became a little of the same after a while. All of the Greek Islands were basically the same sites. They were beautiful, but after a while the ruins got to all run together in our minds. Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast were my favorite. Things that were not as great as other ships...they seem to no longer make the little animals out of the towels for your room. I noticed this on the last two Princess cruises as well. The photos of you coming on the ship and off were poor. The gladiator and Roman had on tennis shoes. Who wants a picture with the Roman wearing tennis shoes? Not us. There was no meet the Captain personally. He was on the stage at the theatre and spoke to everyone as a group. What's up with that? It use to be so nice to get your picture taken with the captain. No more. And the champagne was awful with no appetizers like you usually have. It was not a party at all. But, I don't want to be negative. The cruise was wonderful. The staff was excellent. The ship is just beautiful. I would go on it again. The ports were great. We had not been to any of them except Rome and Naples and even enjoyed repeating those. I would highly recommend the Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
After 18 months of anticipation, we finally boarded Solstice! Info - We are DINK's in our 40s. Ok, one of us, the other one is lying. This was our 13th cruise - we cruise X and RCCL exclusively. Pre Cruise - We spent 2 ... Read More
After 18 months of anticipation, we finally boarded Solstice! Info - We are DINK's in our 40s. Ok, one of us, the other one is lying. This was our 13th cruise - we cruise X and RCCL exclusively. Pre Cruise - We spent 2 nights at the Hyatt Pier 66. Nice property with excellent service. We enjoyed sunset drinks at Pelican Bar. The pool was pretty crowded but this was the Saturday before NYE so that is to be expected. The workout room is quite small for a resort of this size but equipment was fine. I had a manicure for $50 (sigh, I can get one at home for $15 but it wouldn't have lasted the cruise) and had a shampoo/blowout for over $100 - way too much and she took over an hour and a half. I can get a shampoo/cut and dry for about an hour - I was climbing the walls towards the end and finally told her I HAD to leave. She was very nice but it just took too long! Gratuity is automatically added there. We were fortunate to have a Tower Room that faced the port so we could watch the ships leave and watch them come in - yep, we got up early enough to see several arrive although JUST missed Solstice. Checked out and took a cab (actually a nice SUV, lucky us) and arrived at the port around 11 am. EMBARKATION: Very smooth. We arrived early on purpose so had to wait for about 30 minutes. Once they opened it up, we were checked in quite quickly. Definitely among the first onboard around 11:30. THE SHIP: Visually stunning. I can really find nothing to complain about regarding the ship. The decor is tasteful, varied and soothing. It will be hard to find a way to fully experience the ship in 7 days. We didn't so darn it, we'll have to go back. POOLS: Aquaspa is my favorite lounging place for sea days and quiet mornings. This was no different. From the various loungers, cabanas etc to the placement of the whirlpools to the pool (ideal temperature - never fear, it is NOT cold), it is a lovely place. Chair hogs ruled on this sailing (New Years, whattaya expect?) but we found chairs before 9 am quite easily. After 10 am, good luck. Being a ghost, the pool is not my scene although I like going in the afternoon to listen to the band and enjoy the sun. This was the most crowded pool deck I have ever seen - not a chair to be had. However, again, holiday sailing and a large percentage of passengers who were sungods and goddesses as well as MANY children. I was pleased to see that security was vigilant about enforcing the no children policy in the Aquaspa. DINING: I found the Grand Epernay to be stunning. We had a lovely table (#241 - great location). Service was a bit slow the first 2 nights but they rallied later. The food was fine - not fine dining cuisine but very nice. Not a bad meal. We requested escargot and our maitre'd made sure we had it beginning Wednesday and again on Friday and Saturday. We ate in Tuscan Grille and Muranos. Both are very nice but I would return to Tuscan Grille over Muranos. I enjoyed the service in Tuscan provided by Slobadan and Luciana - if they are your servers, you are in for a treat. Muranos had a mistake on our charge - we had prepaid for specialty and he brought us the bill, not only for us but also for our tablemates who were in a suite so they were also supposed to be free. It took him 15 minutes to bring back the corrected ticket. Not the end of the world, but evidence that they are still working out some kinks. We had brunch at Bistro "For" 5 and had an excellent meal. It was virtually empty and our wait was brief - they do cook to order so our waiter told us it would take about 15 minutes. That was acceptable. Other cruisers we spoke with had mixed experiences - some had great service and food, others waited an hour for their food and finally left. Again, I think as the crew gets in sync things will be fine. LOUNGES: Michael's seemed too sedate and boring for us but others enjoyed it. Ensemble Lounge - we tried twice. The first time it was busy and it took an hour to get a drink. The second time we went in around 11:30 and there were only 2 people at the bar. The bartender never came over to us so we left. I think it is a nice venue for pre dinner drinks when dining in the Specialty Restaurants but didn't feel compelled to seek it out. On the flip side, it was the favorite lounge of others we met. Martini Bar was usually hopping and great fun. It is centrally located and between the main dining room and the casino so it is easily crowded. There was a quite large Latin passenger base on our cruise and the Sky Lounge was mainly the Latin lounge most evenings so we did not venture there except for Captains Club and Cruise Critic functions. It is nice, your standard lounge similar to the ones on M class ships. Quasar was small and we just popped in to look at it - I think it was really packed late night but with a huge amount of young people on the sailing, we didn't have it on the To Do list. LAWN CLUB AREA: We liked it. It's a lovely area with seating. This is where the cigar smokers went but with the wind it was never much of an issue. We liked to go grab a mid/late afternoon drink at the Sunset Bar and enjoyed it very much. We watched a small part of the Hot Glass show - it was interesting but 20 minutes was plenty for us. The complete show is listed as 2 hours. SPA: Glad I was onboard early - I still stood in line for 40 minutes to make an appointment. I really wish X would provide Captains Club members the option to pre-book spa appts - even if its just Elite members. It is silly to stand in line and it's also so hard on the spa personnel since people can be so rude. It shouldn't be hard to make this easier. The spa is lovely - the Relaxation Room is nice and since I had a Captains Club coupon, I could access the Persian Garden once. It was peaceful since I was the only one in there but not worth paying for and I think the PG on M class is much nicer. CONCIERGE CLASS ROOM: The room is efficient. The bathroom is greatness. My husband is 6'5 and could maneuver in there quite well and was very pleased with the shower. The shampoo conditioner body wash lotion are of good quality and lemongrass (mmhm) We found closet space to be fine but I'm an efficient packer. Our safe froze up twice but they fixed it in a timely manner. The interactive tv was great and got the seal of approval from the IT professional husband. It was great to access the photos and keep track of our account - the music channels were great and we enjoyed the bridge cam. Husband prefers M class CC rooms because they are more square and it was a tight fit for him to walk around the bed. Our balcony was quite deep (probably 15 feet) since we were on the hump - with the couch by the window so it was harder to see the actual ocean from the bed than we are used to. We had room service breakfast one day and it was pretty blah. CASUAL DINING: Food at the Pool Bar was always good. Aquaspa food was good. The sushi in Oceanview was excellent both times we tried it. Pizza was good. We eat breakfast early to avoid the crowd and never had problems. Waffles, omelettes fresh! Silverware is now at all the stations so no issues there. We never had table issues. The only flaw I saw was in the afternoon after the lunch is closed and before tea is open, the pizza/pasta station is combined in one line and it was long. We came back onboard one day and stood in line for well over 30 minutes. If you wanted pizza, you still had to stand behind all the pasta people. If you wanted pasta, vice versa. They should separate it and make it 2 lines. SERVICE: With very few exceptions, we had outstanding service. Most of the staff was friendly and eager to please. Our cabin attendant and assistant were mainly invisible but appeared whenever we needed them and did a great job. CAPTAINS CLUB: Our Elite party was a bit of a bust. It was at 11 am pre arrival in san Juan. Due to a medical emergency, we got into San Juan at 11:30 instead of 2 pm so all the senior officers were on the bridge. Perfectly understandable. Our disappointment was that since we did not know we would be arriving so early, we completely missed the approach and watching from the deck as we approach the Fort had been something we looked forward to. We missed it since we were in the lounge and unaware of how early we would be arriving. The regular party was fine, albeit a bit stuffy and too long. GALA BRUNCH: No more midnight buffet which to me is not a bad thing. They had a brunch which was outstanding. We enjoyed it very much - look for the chicken pot pies, they were fresh and hot. ENTERTAINMENT: I very much enjoyed Solstice. I have seen several Cirque du Soleil shows and this was quite on par. I recognized many of the "acts" but felt the performers were very strong. I should also admit that I work in entertainment so I am pretty hard to please. We also saw the late night comedy show of Louis Johnson and I enjoyed his act very much. CASINO: This was our only real "disappointment" and had nothing to do with Celebrity. There were 2 gambling groups on board, as well as a large group of passengers who apparently did not go to dinner. We could never get a table past 7 pm to play AT ALL EVER. The slot machines were the tightest I have ever seen on 13 cruises - I don't always ask to win (ok that's a lie) but I would like to at least play for a while on my donation. I would put $100 in and never hit a thing. No thanks - I prefer to donate more slowly than that! :) Had I been able to play at the tables, I might have recouped some slot money but it was impossible. DISEMBARKATION: We were at 8:45 and were off within 5 minutes. The easiest I've seen. SOLSTICE IN GENERAL: Will we cruise Solstice again? Yes. Will we choose her OVER M class? Not really. We will probably forgo holiday cruises again. Although we had a great time, there were issues with unruly children and out of control partying by the 16-25 age group. Since there were so many large family groups on board, it seemed like security was challenged by many things but overall did as well as they could. There was a diversity of cultures onboard and sometimes it appeared to negatively impact others enjoyment. I heard more passengers complaining than ever before - while some may have been warranted, sometimes it seemed to be nitpicking. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
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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