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5 Celebrity Solstice Middle East Cruise Reviews

Firstly, the boarding procedure in Dubai was pathetic. We arrived early on day of boarding and being in a Concierge cabin expected prompt handling. The check in took over two hours standing for the understaffed to process us on to the ... Read More
Firstly, the boarding procedure in Dubai was pathetic. We arrived early on day of boarding and being in a Concierge cabin expected prompt handling. The check in took over two hours standing for the understaffed to process us on to the ship. Passports were collected and we were told that we would get them a bit later !. Almost 5 hours after entering our cabin and still no luggage. Calls to the Guest relations desk proved futile-no clear explanation or answers. We were forced as well as most of the other passengers to have our first dinner in the main dining room in whatever clothes we were wearing. Not a very inviting sight to begin our first evening on the Solstice. A request to have our passports were met with misleading and dishonest answers. Fact is, we were told that it was OK to go ashore in Dubai or the next port -Muscat,Oman without the passports. Tell that to the U.S. State Department or even the guest lectures on board the ship ! The morning of our arrival in Cochin,India a 45 minute wait to retrieve our passports began the day ! Again, after we boarded the ship in Cochin,passports were collected and we were told its OK to get off ship and tour in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia. On the last morning,before leaving the ship in Singapore,we had to line up again for the return. Celebrity must be counting on the ignorance of its passengers,but I would hate to be involved in any emergency medical or legal hassle while off the ship and not have my U.S. passport with me ! I have traveled extensively for business and pleasure as well, and also have overseen of staff overseas assignments and never is anyone ever advised to walk around in a foreign country without a proper,original ( not a facsimile ) passport. The communication skills of the Guest Relations staff as well as the Captain in these matters is disgraceful ! As respects the ship itself,Solstice seems to need a refreshing update in all areas. Decor is dated,faded and nondescript.. Food in MDR is fine for those whom the ability to order many dishes is the draw.Food very mediocre, and presentation is also boring. We ate one evening in the Silk Harvest and food, etc. just average. We opted out of trying the other specialty venues after this attempt at a more upscale experience. Oceanview Cafe was what to expect in a buffet,cafeteria setting ! Outside pool area food -very 2nd rate.. Shows ,mostly were tacky and garish... Cruise director,Paul was a throwback to the old snake salesman/huckster. Pool area always jammed and volume of the music seemed more appropriate for an outdoor amateur rock show.! Perhaps, it was this cruise, and the passenger make-up,but it was a very senior and uncouth bunch. The only bright light for us were our cabin attendants and the wait staff in the restaurants. Celebrity seems to be competing these days with Carnival and its customer base as opposed to an upscale passenger and will suffer in the end. Next cruise will be on Azamara or Oceanic..One gets what one pays for !! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
After a super whistle stop 2 days in Dubai we joined the ship via a chaotic and wearying hour and a half check in, due to a terminal malfunction. However, once on board we found our balcony cabin to be very nice, with a really decent sized ... Read More
After a super whistle stop 2 days in Dubai we joined the ship via a chaotic and wearying hour and a half check in, due to a terminal malfunction. However, once on board we found our balcony cabin to be very nice, with a really decent sized bathroom, shower with curved sliding doors and plenty of room to put toiletries. If any complaint, the lack of hanging space - we much prefer the open rail style as per Princess, so you don't have to keep sliding wardrobe doors open and shut, and having clothes squashed up. Bed very big and always kept made and clean by Ronaldo. Didn't find the over-bed cupboards a problem as reported by previous reviews, even though I'm only 5ft 2", and were a useful place to store bags etc. Ship itself is very beautiful and always kept clean and tidy. Lifts were efficient and plentiful. Many areas to sit and be quiet if you wanted, or busy and fun filled if you preferred a more active time. We thought the choices of food were excellent all over the ship, but didn't use any speciality restaurants as we were happy in the MDR each night, and occasional breakfast time. We did think the wine charges were excessive, especially with the extra 15%, but were on holiday so didn't let it prevent us having several bottles of good Australian Red. Would have to say that the Indian authorities will have to up their game if they wish to attract ships like Solstice to Cochin. The overpowering processes to enable passengers to step ashore were way over the top, with long queues to complete the face to face check (after already having had to part with our passports before the cruise, in order to obtain a visa). It was also very off putting to be met again at the end of the gangway by yet another check and several armed personnel - what did they think a shipload of this calibre of people were going to attempt!! They will need to provide some facilities at the port to make it more appealing on arrival too - a wasted opportunity for some income if they don't. However, once onshore the Backwaters tour was very interesting and enabled us to see some 'real life' views of how the people live. The lunch at Lake Palace hotel was good and well presented. Oman was a good stop, particularly as we joined up with another couple,(thank you Anne and Cliff) for a trip to the Grand Mosque, which is a 'must see' if you have time. LADIES DON'T FORGET TO KEEP COVERED FROM HEAD TO FOOT. Also you need to have completed the visit before 11am, as no non-muslims allowed in after then. Kuala Lumpur stop was a little spoiled by Celebrity under estimating the tours take up. Consequently, at least an hour was lost just queueing to disembark the ship, followed by a traffic hold up due to an accident on the motorway ( not Celebrity's fault I realise). This resulted in us being rushed through each of the tourist visits we made, with only 20 minutes in most places. The tower visit was good and gave us a great view over KL, and Central Markets could have been a good chance for some souvenier buying had we had more time. However, we got a taster of 4/5 different places and also a good lunch, so quite a good tour overall if the full 7.5 hours available. We thought the entertainment was disappointing overall, though the ship's shows were good and full of energy. The visiting entertainers were not as good as we have seen on other cruises. Couldn't fault the entertainments crew. We thought they worked tirelessly and put in a lot of effort to keep things moving - loved the night of the masked party , especially when the amateur 'lift entertainers' added to the hilarity (you know who you are, YOU CHEEKY BOYS). To sum up, this was a lovely relaxing cruise, visiting new and exciting ports. The value for money of the cruise itself was good, but all the extras ie: 15% on everything, no self laundry facility, and expensive ships tours make this into an expensive holiday. We cannot fault the majority of the crew's customer service, with the exception of 1/2 of the casino dealers, who had changeable moods from night to night - most were very personable. Also must mention great drinks service from our waitress in the casino - who always got every drink perfect. We also found the customer relations desk staff to be more helpful than we have experienced on some ships, so praise deserved there too. After a troublefree disembarkation the time came to return home after a further night in Singapore, where we stayed in Kings Copthorne hotel, which was quite well placed for China town, Clarke Quay (great place to eat by the river at night) and the MRT underground. Singapore Zoo is super for seeing animals in a much more natural setting. Provided you don't get caught in a monsoon without a waterproof like we did, it would be a fantastic day out - with or without children. ENJOY IT ALL !!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This is my first review, and as I have only just returned home from the overnight flight from Singapore the memories should still be fresh, and hopefully be of some use if you are considering either this cruise, or this cabin. I know there ... Read More
This is my first review, and as I have only just returned home from the overnight flight from Singapore the memories should still be fresh, and hopefully be of some use if you are considering either this cruise, or this cabin. I know there are lots of very useful hints and tips available on the forums but sometimes it is good to simply read a review. Embarkation: incredibly straightforward, flew into Dubai, private transfer to the port, then a simple check in experience where the Sea Pass was issued and we were told that we would be able to board the ship at around 1pm. That was perfect for us as it meant we had less than a couple of hours to wait, but even better they allowed us onto the ship at around 11.30 so we could go exploring and have a bite to eat straight away. I only hope it is that simple next time! Cabin: 7237, on the 'hump' as I believe it is referred to. Could not fault the location of the cabin, mid ships on deck 7, right by the stars and elevators but separated from any noise with its own privacy doors separating this cabin and the one next door from the corridor. There is ample storage space, in the closet, the drawers and in the useful cupboards over the top of the bed where you can find your beach towel (we only used this on the balcony, as there are plenty of fresh clean towels available on each deck for use on the sunbeds). The bed was very big, the balcony just right for two (two chairs that recline and a small table perfect for the wine glasses), and the bathroom just about right too. Note that in this class of cabin you are provided with shampoo and conditioner but no shower gel so take your own or buy it on board in the shop. There is a very useful night light in the bathroom which means there is no need to wake up your partner in the middle of the night. Unless you want to. Ship: these are just general comments as there is much more detail available on CC....we were on freedom dining, and had no problems turning up for dinner each night between 8.15 and 8.45ish and getting a table straight away, either with friends or by ourselves. The food in the main dining room was generally excellent, can not think of a single poor meal, and as we were on the Premium drinks package there was a comprehensive selection of wines available by the glass to suit each course. Speaking of which, I have read a number of reviews of this drinks package but I have to say we found it excellent, in terms of ease of use if not simply in terms of value for money. The choices were excellent (only a small number of wines cost more than $12), premium spirits and martinis plentiful and the concoctions available at the molecular bar pretty stunning. And if you didn't like any of them you could simply ask for a different one safe in the knowledge that drinks were already paid for... oh yes, all waters, juices, coffees, teas etc were part of this package too. We dined in The Silk Harvest (Asian) and Tuscan Grille (Contemporary Italian) and were wowed in both. The view from Tuscan Grille overlooking the ship's wake whilst devouring a divine Fillet Mignon was truly memorable. Nightlife: was what you made it really, contrary to popular belief the ship did not close down at 11.30 each night, there was always at least one venue/bar where there was dancing/drinking and general merry making. Generally this was the Sky Lounge as this had a dance floor and a big bar area. My friends and I certainly helped to get the dancing going and it's amazing how many people are prepared to join in ! The Martini Bar was a particular favourite and the bar staff an absolute blast, always smiling and happy that you are enjoying their creations. The wine bar (Cellar Masters) was slightly more refined, perfect for an aperitif on the formal evenings, and despite the very warm evenings it was great to see so many Tuxes and evening gowns on display. All in all, we really enjoyed our first experience with Celebrity, made some great friends and were really impressed with the Solstice, and will certainly be booking with Celebrity again. Hope this has been useful, if there is anything you would like to know about the cruise or the ports just let me know ! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This was an astounding cruise and an interesting mix of exotic ports and many days at sea. The embarkation process was smooth in Barcelona and we were quickly aboard. The cruise started well with a celebratory glass of champagne as we ... Read More
This was an astounding cruise and an interesting mix of exotic ports and many days at sea. The embarkation process was smooth in Barcelona and we were quickly aboard. The cruise started well with a celebratory glass of champagne as we embarked. What we didn't know is that Celebrity allows passengers on board while entire corridors of staterooms are blocked off (this was a first in our many cruises). We were on board ship several hours before the announcement was made that the rooms were open. This left thousands of people roaming around with their carryon luggage trying to find a spot in the buffet or on the decks. Kind of messy and not the best first impression. The cruise took a turn for the worse when our luggage did not arrive by the time we sailed. We had already been aboard ship for 7 hours and had no idea where the luggage was hiding. Our cabin steward took me downstairs to the area where luggage is quarantined because there is a suspected forbidden item that requires security clearance. Our luggage was not there, wasn't on any list, no one knew anything, etc. Fortunately the bags arrived after we returned from supper. Our cabin steward said that he had received a call from his supervisor about the luggage, but the steward declined to give us details. Nothing was missing from the bags including the bottle of wine Celebrity allows per passenger and a corkscrew. Go figure. My anxiety level was running high because I wanted to complete the long job of putting everything away and getting a good nights sleep and that is a little hard to do when nothing has arrived yet. This glitch turned out to be our biggest issue on this cruise so all in all things went smoothly for us. We really liked the service and attitudes of the crew. In 16 nights aboard ship we could probably count on two hands the number of times an individual crew member did not take time to greet us or talk to us, and that includes the officers. Our cabin steward Miguel was completely accommodating to our needs and we appreciated the fact that he delivered a pitcher of water and ice to our room twice a day, and clean glasses. We were probably easy passengers for him as we always kept our room picked up and we tried to minimize the work our steward needed to do but when we made rare extra requests they were always granted, including obtaining another mattress pad as the beds are hard on arthritic hips. We were lucky about this as on the day we asked for the extra pad someone else had decided he didn't want his. Normally there are not extra pads around. The cabin on Celebrity Solstice was strange. We are used to a setup where the closet and shelves are located in the entryway. This closet was small and located next to one person's side of the bed. If my husband piled up a bunch of books or shoes next to his side of the bed I had to lean over sideways to try to get into the closet. Don't know what the designers were thinking when they came up with this. There is a lovely large storage space above the bed and the shelving situation in the bathroom is more than adequate so that made up for the closet inconvenience. The shower stall also has a closable door instead of the usual shower curtain and this was much appreciated. Our room was very far aft and so we had minimal traffic and noise outside the room. The balcony in this room (#7305) is also about 50% larger than others we have had. The down side was that because of the design of the ship it is not possible to look directly down into the water from the balcony, something we enjoy. We also had very loud neighbors who partied until bartime and then threw a mini party on their balcony every night. Sigh. The entertainment crew aboard ship was topnotch. Not only were they relaxed, fun loving people, but they were talented. The cruise director and his assistant were sometimes heard singing with the band--and yes, had voices that were enjoyable to hear. The list of activities was creative and although we did not participate in a lot of group activities we did enjoy spectating the Pool Olympics and a few other competitions. We also participated in the egg drop contest in which we had to build a craft that would carry 3 raw eggs and safely land on a target 4 stories down into the atrium without breaking the egg. The creativity of the competitors was amazing and watching this competition was lots of fun. Sadly 2 of the 3 eggs in our vessel did not make it but it was still fun. The dance lessons were given by the Stars of Solstice staff and were excellent although always very crowded. On the cruise before ours we heard that only 4 people attended the dance classes--try about 50 people on our cruise! My husband was disappointed that only one other person wanted to enter the casino poker tournament and so the tournaments were always cancelled. Even the slot tournament was canceled for lack of entries. The slots on this cruise were horribly tight and very few people were in the casino even at the tables. We loved the danceband Intenz who performed several times a day and were always fun whether it was ballroom dancing or get down and have fun dancing. We ponied up an extra $100 per person to have privileges to the Persian Garden heated stone recliners, showers, sauna, and private relaxation room. The latter was a nice refuge and excellent observation post on the day we went through the Suez as it is directly in the front of the ship. Was this $100 worth it? Maybe, considering how tired we were after some of the excursions and how good the heated benches felt to us. Maybe not when the benches were filled and the spa staff told us that they limit people to 20 minutes (and then don't enforce it in the least). I don't know if we would spend this money again. One of our other complaints was that chairs on the pooldeck would not be monitored by crew for inactivity. A towel on the chair seemed to guarantee that the chair was yours the entire day no matter how little time you were in it. That certainly hampered our enjoyment of the pool deck as it was hard to get a chair until late afternoon. The entertainment on board ship was very good. We enjoyed the production shows especially Ghostlight, and the Cirque du Soleil type of show. Don't miss the presentations by Glenmore Trenear-Harvey who is an expert about international intelligence and spies. His presentations about Mossad, Russian intelligence, and the Liberty, were especially good. We missed his presentation on piracy and couldn't see to catch the rerun on the TV. Drats! Would have enjoyed it. Another astounding presentation is the Corning Museum Hot Glass Show in which talented artists create blown glass vases, urns, etc. Wow! We are Celebrity Select members and the perks given with this patronage level were very much appreciated. We went to a theater backstage tour, a wine tasting, and a welcome party. We missed the Celebration Event but heard that that was very nice too. The food in the dining room was quite good of course depending on the day and type of food. We frequently tire of 3 course, 2 hour meals or have schedule conflicts such that we go to the buffet or the pool hamburger place for some variety. The fries and burgers at the latter are outstanding. I thought the buffet was the best I've had aboard 6 different cruiselines. The food was appropriate in temperature and hadn't seemed to be sitting around forever under a heat lamp, there was a significant variety in the food, a very nice salad bar,the crew was accommodating, there was always a place to sit and enough dishes and silverware. A bonus was the ice cream available about 10 hours every day and served by one of the bubbliest people on earth, Andreea Rau. How anyone could scoop ice cream 10 hours a day and be so happy and delightful is a wonder! The connectivity to the internet was advertised as being problematic on this cruise because of maintenance issues. I just wish that they had charged 1/2 of the usual price because it took so long to get anything done on the internet and even a quick check of email was impossibly long. It was amazing to us to be sailing in this part of the world passing Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Sudan, Dijibouti, and of course Jordan, the Sinai peninsula, and Egypt. At one point we actually saw Yemen on the port side and Somalia on starboard! Yes, there were piracy precautions once we entered the Gulf of Aden. For the last 6 nights we were not allowed to open our stateroom drapery when we had lights on in the cabin, some ship lights were turned off, and most significantly, we were not allowed on the open decks after sunset. This did cut down on the enjoyment of the pool deck and their dancing lighted water show and we would have liked to have sat out on the deck at night under the stars but so be it. We felt safe and weren't worried about pirates, just had to plan ahead a little more. By the way, speaking of enjoyment of the pool deck, we do wish that the Celebrity Solstice had movies under the stars like Princess. Celebrity offered movies but the seats were quite uncomfortable and there is something about being wrapped in a cozy blanket eating popcorn and watching the big screen under the stars. We took this cruise because of the ports and the Suez Canal transit and all of these completely met our expectations. We would have liked 2 days in Aqaba, Jordan so that we could travel both to Petra and Wadi Rum, and we could have given up the extra night stay in Safaga, Egypt. Most people stayed on board ship the second day in Safaga so this is wasted time. We contracted with Our Egypt Tours for private tours of Giza, Dashur and Sakkara (Alexandria port for Cairo); Alexandria city tour; and the Valley of the Kings and the temples of Hatsheput and Karnak (from Safaga, Egypt port). We were very pleased with the services we received from this company, from the booking process in which we negotiated about what we wanted to do and did not want to do, the prices (which are less expensive or competitive with the ship's), and the trained and professional Egyptologist guides that explained and instructed us as we travelled through Egypt. It was fascinating to hear about the "peaceful revolution" from the viewpoint of our guides, and yes, we were very fortunate to be in Egypt before hostilities heated up in Israel, and before Morsi proclaimed total power setting off a new wave of protests. Our excursions into Egypt were wonderful and we felt safe and well informed because of our excellent guides and drivers. In Aqaba we took the ship's excursion to Petra and it met our expectations although it had the usual hassle of dealing with a busload of people, some noncompliant with the time expectations stated by our guide of when we would meet to start the trip back to the ship. Oh well. Debarkation in Dubai was smooth and we hailed a taxi into the city for the next stage of our adventure. It was probably one of the best cruises we have been on and we are very happy we experienced the long days at sea and the exciting shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Sorry in advance, My English is not so good ( we are Germans) and the translation comes from Google. We are just back from our Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice from Barcelona to Dubai and we are Elite Members. Advance as a small ... Read More
Sorry in advance, My English is not so good ( we are Germans) and the translation comes from Google. We are just back from our Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice from Barcelona to Dubai and we are Elite Members. Advance as a small Info, we met a lot of old friends and crew members and have felt very comfortable on board. We had booked the Aqua Class and also the Blue Restaurant. The quality and presentation of the food were OK, but the Selection was disappointing.Specially wish for a Rib eye steak or Fillet Mignon were generally denied. Due to this unacceptable behavior, we moved into the main restaurant, which received more and flexible to the guests' wishes. But there were some things that not only ourselves but also others on board very disturbed The Port in Safaga is for a 5 star ship a real impertinence. No Infrastructure, no shuttle bus to the port gate, Dirty, filthy. It was a shame. There really Other alternatives. But the worst thing what did were annoyed us were the last 6 days of the Cruise. The ship was from sunset to sunrise darkened, all open decks 5,12,14 and 15th are closed and darkened The balconies were eclipsed and it was forbidden to use the balcony. Because of alleged attacks by pirates. (My wife wanted to see "Jack Sparrow" but absolutely nothing. The Sports Center the Hairdresser all lit up, the the same when they cleaning the Aqua or Blue the Restaurant brightly illuminated.The Pollbar remained open and enlightened because of the protests of the smoker but the pools were not allowed to be used. That was all quite ridiculous We were cruising also in January 2012 with the Brilliance of the Seas from Dubai to Oman, there was partying and no blackout. What is Eritrea or Oman to do with pirates. Absolutely Nothing. We are sailing only for one Day in the Gulf of Aden near the Coast of Somalia and by the Way very slow, only 15 Knots. This Safe Petrol for the Company. Understandable from an economic view, who can not use the Balcony or the Pools or the other open Decks for a walk around the Ship drink more at the bars, and allowing more money on board. And that makes me very angry, if one is fooled so obvious. It was totally exaggerated but I can still understand, " Safety first" But, ..... Why were we are not informed about these restrictions, as we had not booked the expensive Aqua Class but an inside cabin or we would not have booked the whole ride. However, anyone who thinks that there is a small compensation ( A Sorry Cocktail ) or even one, looks disappointed. Nothing I'm curious how the shipping company responds to the many disappointed comments. I can think of right now on until I write these sentences .... we got no Comment Card to fill .... funny. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
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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