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36 Celebrity Solstice Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

This was our second cruise, our first cruise last September was a 10-day cruise on the Queen Mary 2. The Solstice 14-day transatlantic cruise turned out very different from our intial expectations. Celebrity's sales pitches/brochures ... Read More
This was our second cruise, our first cruise last September was a 10-day cruise on the Queen Mary 2. The Solstice 14-day transatlantic cruise turned out very different from our intial expectations. Celebrity's sales pitches/brochures and passenger revues led us to form a high level of expectationson. Unfortunately the QM2 is a hard act to follow, which greatly influenced our views and opinions of the Celebrity Solstice. Net result of these expectations we believed that Solstice class ships would equal or ever better the QM2 augmented by the fact that Celebrity Solstice class ships are rated at 5.5-Stars vs. the Queen Mary 2 only 5-Stars. First the good news: - The Celebrity Solstice is VERY well maintained and well run ship. - It is kept spotlessly clean. - The service given by 99% of the staff was impeccable; most of the crew/staff went out of their way to please. - Though cabins are smaller on the Solstice class ships than on the Queen Mary 2 they are more nicely decorated. - The house keeping staff (cabin boy) would change towels twice a day, and he would constantly be keeping the cabin meticulous clean and tidy a far superior service than you would receive in most 5-star hotels - Food in the specialty restaurants was VERY good and the service and ambiance was spectacularly impressive. - Food presentation in the main dining room (MDR) always looked good and on about 7 occasions (both lunches/dinners) the food quality could be described as very good. - Daily & nightly entertainment was good. - The weather the whole way across the Atlantic was fantastic we only experienced two nights that could describe it as being slightly bumpy. - The lawn on the Solstice was one of the best-maintained lawns that we had ever seen. Would compare well with any bowling green in one of the top country sport clubs. - My wife and I both only gained 2 kilo's. Now for the bad news: - Celebrity over markets their cruise ship quality service and culinary prowess. Their marketing wording & picture brochures do not actually openly lie but their marketing message is greatly over exaggerated. (The problem with this is that it gives passengers a sense of disappointment and letdown when confronted with the reality of what is actually offered.) - Though the Solstice was very clean & well maintained there was none of the "WOW" factors of the Queen Mary 2. - When walking on board for the first time the impression was like entering a top of the line Holiday Inn hotel vs. a 5-Star Four Season or Hyatt hotel. Nice but no WOW factor. - Lots of chrome & glass stairs with modern contemporary decor. (We much prefer the quite luxurious opulence and elegance of Cunard.) - Solstice has much of an open plan concept though some might think this better than the distinctive & separate bars and public sections you find on the QM2. - I would have no qualms about going to sea in a category 1 or 2 hurricane on the QM2 but would not like to experience very rough seas on any Solstice class ship, they would pitch and roll like a bucking bronco (Ocean liner vs. cruise ship). - As previously stated food in the main dining room was generally well presented and looked attractive but the quality was poor (not the Chef's fault). - During the one and only brunch with all the ice carvings and fancy looking food displays (as previously stated the presentation was good but actual quality was generally poor) I asked one of the waiters at the fruit section if could I have some papaya as there were 9 big uncut papaya's on display. He's reply was very telling and it explained a lot of things: "No we do not have any cut papaya for brunch because it is too expensive". This went a long way of explaining why we were very disappointed with the food quality compared to our experience on the QM2. - Due to higher fuel costs and to protect their bottom line Celebrity must have cut the food budget quite drastically over the last while because they used to have a reputation for good food though I predict this good reputation is going to disappear. This is born out by Celebrity having gone through quite a few "Executive Chef's" over the last three years. The food challenge Celebrity has is that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. No mater how much lipstick you put on the pig. By continually claiming you are serving "silk purses" is misleading that leads to passenger disappointment. Rather than go on bitching about the quality of the food in the MDR I must say we enjoyed the trans Atlantic cruise experience on the Solstice. Because the food factor is so important to us and the Solstice MDR experience has put our 14-day December Caribbean cruise on the Solstice Eclipse in doubt even though we havealready paid $2,130.84 for our air fair and cruise deposit. If we cancel before the full payment due date in September, we will have a penalty charge on the purchased airfares. We were going to purchase an "On Board Passage" for the $300 OBC but decided against doing so because of our uncertainty of cruising with Celebrity again. If we go on a cruise again we might try Holland America or Princes, or a trans Atlantic return from New York on the Queen Mary 2 if I can get a good price as Cunard tends to be a bit more expensive. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
without repeating at nausea in a variety of phrases the above, the ship did not meet expectations and seems to be poorly managed without an understanding regarding customer satisfaction and working in the service industry; co-incidentally, ... Read More
without repeating at nausea in a variety of phrases the above, the ship did not meet expectations and seems to be poorly managed without an understanding regarding customer satisfaction and working in the service industry; co-incidentally, someone asked the kitchen chef where they buy their salmon, he appeared dumfounded upon this question, someone in the executive line up prompted him with 'the Atlantic' and another lined up officer fed him 'Alaska', so the concluding summery answer was 'the Salmon is all Atlantic Salmon and we get it from Alaska' ......;nonetheless, we did indeed arrive in Barcelona; thanks to the aid of the automatic pilot .....??? the Solarium turned out to be a big disappointment for many passengers who had expected - based on the term Solarium, and on previous experience with the Millennium ships, that the Solstice Solarium pool would be heated to a comfortable temperature as well. No-one expected the supposedly superior ship Solstice would revert to an unheated, thus ice-cold Solarium pool.The dinner buffet was boringly repetitive with very basic choices lacking flavor and sophistication in an unpleasant atmosphere with uninterested attendants avoiding eye contact to circumvent being asked to serve water or drinks ....or clear some of the used dishes ....... looking back to the variety of cruise lines and their individual ships on which we enjoyed an all around pleasant cruise, meeting or exceeding expectations, it appears that the management of the individual ship, more than the cruise line itself, is responsible in creating the experience their company promises and advertises.While the Solstice is a wonderful vessel, the executive officers / crew certainly lacks doing justice to the ship and its passengers. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Almost everything about the cruise was wonderful, but the cabin itself was one of the worst ever... JUST the cabin was awful, not the bath which was excellent. First of all, the cabins are so narrow that, with the beds arranged as they ... Read More
Almost everything about the cruise was wonderful, but the cabin itself was one of the worst ever... JUST the cabin was awful, not the bath which was excellent. First of all, the cabins are so narrow that, with the beds arranged as they are, it is very difficult to get from one end of the cabin to the other. One literally has to shuffle to pass the bed - VERY poor design, all in an attempt to cram in as many balcony cabins as possible. And, don't try to access the very small closet without lots of trouble, since the closet is only inches from the side of the bed. And if your partner is sleeping, forget it because he/she will be awakened as you fumble to gain access to the closet. And, who was the genius who put the largest storage over the bed head. Does one stand on the bed for full access, or not use that precious space, or travel with limited clothing? Really poor design.... All cabin designers should be forced to spend 2 weeks or longer in the cabins that they design and fit, and not pay them until they go through what we deal with. I don't need more space, as I spend little time in the cabin except to sleep and dress... What I do need is a design fit for humans; maybe get the bathroom designer to do the cabins, as the bath designs are wonderful.... Note: Cadiz, Spain is one of the BEST ports ever. It has not been used much in the past, but I promise that you will love, love, love the city... Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
I would say that overall this cruise on Celebrity Solstice was good. It was not great but there was very little that was outright bad. Maybe I should start at the beginning. We booked our trip before the first of the year and paid what we ... Read More
I would say that overall this cruise on Celebrity Solstice was good. It was not great but there was very little that was outright bad. Maybe I should start at the beginning. We booked our trip before the first of the year and paid what we considered a fair price about $100 a nite. For that price point we had high expectations. After the Costa Concordia trouble prices were falling like crazy. The message board had many posters telling of great finds on price. That is all fine, many different prices are paid for seats on planes, rooms in hotels, etc... but the guy paying full fair still expects great service. The boarding procedure was OK the building was barn like and warm but we got through fairly quick. We liked the layout of the cabin and the bath was very good. Unfortunately we were right below the buffet and it got noisy late at night and early morning as service changes. We were happy with the service. Waiters and cabin attendants were awesome. Food in MDR was tolerable. We ate at Tuscan Grill and it was very bad. We could not get satisfaction from the Management or the concierge. That was to bad. During the 2nd week a 2 for 1 deals were announced due to lack of business. We loved the enrichment speakers, they were great. The main show Crice Du sole was creepy with animal like costumes and acrobats suspended on ropes over the seats(odd). The entertainment director went by a single name Esmeralda, or something, was off putting. She was always on the TV doing disingenuous interviews, gets old early. The whole experience was OK I was hoping for so much more... Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Background: I consider myself an experienced cruiser, and have sailed most of the world. While my favorite line is Crystal, I like to cruise more than I can afford with them and have also sailed with Windstar, Silversea, RCI, Cunard, HAL, ... Read More
Background: I consider myself an experienced cruiser, and have sailed most of the world. While my favorite line is Crystal, I like to cruise more than I can afford with them and have also sailed with Windstar, Silversea, RCI, Cunard, HAL, and now Celebrity. While the cruise was very pleasant, I am unlikely to return to Celebrity. I saw little reason to choose it over other cruise lines and several reasons to go elsewhere. This itinerary was essentially 2 cruises in 1. The first week to Tenerife was essentially a classic Transatlantic with 7 consecutive days at sea. The second week was more typical of a cruise with 4 ports in 6 days. Hotel Info: Pre-cruise: I spent 3 nights at the Hyatt Pier 66. The hotel is nice but not exceptional (especially for the price). The hotel overlooks the harbor but the 17th street causeway was near the limit of my field of view. There was a tower with an observation point which should have had great harbor views but most guests were not permitted access there while I was present. I think any of several hotels on 17th Street West of the causeway would have been better choices. Post-cruise: In Barcelona, I stayed post cruise at the Barcelona Center Hotel. I was very happy with both the hotel and the location. Ship: The Solstice was built in 2008. and is one of the largest ships I have sailed. At 2850 passengers it is my largest in passenger capacity and her 122,000 tons is my second largest after QM2. It was clean and well maintained. Activities: There was a full schedule of activities, generally adult oriented, on sea days. According to the Cruise Director, this was the first voyage for "Celebrity Life Plus", with a variety of lectures she called unprecedented in the cruise industry, and she constantly reminded us of that throughout the voyage. We actually had 3 presenters, while on my last QM2 voyage there were 4. The Smithsonian Journeys speaker, a newspaper reporter talking about the space program was the weakest of the 3 and was only fair. A second talking about show business I considered good. The best of the 3 was retired NBA Steve Javie. I am not a basketball fan but his presentations were informative, interesting, and entertaining. He was excellent. One difference I noted between Celebrity and Cunard was that the end of cruise evaluation asked us to individually rate each of the presenters while the Solstice evaluation called only for the Celebrity Life program as a whole. Service: The service in Blu was excellent, attentive, and personal. Service in the remainder of the ship was good and professional, but not special, very typical of a mainstream line. Travel To Port of Embarkation: I traveled by train from Washington to Ft. Lauderdale. The train ran 3 hours late but was very comfortable and pleasant. I stayed 3 nights at the Hyatt Pier 66. It was a very nice hotel but I was expected much more of a view of the port than I saw. Stateroom: My Aqua stateroom was comfortable and well laid out. Dining: I was in Blu for this cruise. The service there was excellent and the food quality was generally excellent although the selection was somewhat limited and the French Toast was gooey. I would rate Blu overall at roughly the same quality as Cunard's Britannia Club (1st premium level). I had 1 dinner and 2 lunches in the main dining room. Overall I thought that experience was within the range expected of mainstream cruise lines, roughly the equivalent of HAL R-class and regular Britannia. The lido was well organized but the food uninspiring. I did not dine in any of the specialty restaurants. Entertainment: There is a strong influence on this ship on acrobatic activity. This to me distracted somewhat from the natural talents of the excellent cast. The cast did 3 production shows with outside entertainers other nights, mostly excellent with a few exceptions. Disembarkation: I had booked a half day tour with Barcelona Day tours with an 8:30 meeting time, and requested an 8am departure from the ship. The announcement that the ship had been cleared I think came about 7, and I went to deck 4 Epernay dining room to await departure. The call came about 7:50, pretty close to the expected time. Summary: This was my 12th transatlantic voyage and 12th best. I tend to prefer smaller ships but not uniformly. I'm sure if this had been my first cruise I'd have been blown away, but my overall impression was great frills with mediocre basics. I enjoyed this cruise but found little to recommend Celebrity over it's competitors and several significant disadvantages. The positives: 1. Having the cabin wired for internet was an improvement over relying on wifi (although the link is still satellite). 2. Choice air is the best cruise air in the business. The negatives: 1. Vista lounge closed to all but Captain's Club Elite 5+ hours every day. In the entire time of the westbound crossing I never once had the opportunity to watch a sunrise from a sheltered location. I was supposed to be a customer, not a pledge at a college fraternity and have never felt as much as a second class citizen. RCI (at least on Enchantment) does these things either in the unused level of the dining room or half of the Viking Crown Lounge, rarely if ever closing off the entire observation lounge. 2. A tiny, poorly stocked, and completely unstaffed library, much less than anything I've encountered on HAL, Cunard, or even Windstar's tiny ships. 3. A "port lecturer" who was nothing but a shill for the ships excursions and recommended shops. 4. The miserable "jogging track". Much worse than most anything I've encountered yet: A. The understandable: I don't expect the 122,000 Solstice to match the 150,000 ton QM2. Worse than the Crystal (half the size) ships, but hey, they're luxury ships, and I expect more. B. The less understandable: Worse than HAL's R and S Class ships and Prinsendam (mainstream ships half the size or less) C. The downright shameful: RCI's ships are not well equipped for walking but Solstice is worse than either the 90,000 ton Jewel of the Seas or the 80,000 ton Enchantment of the Seas. Worse than the 15,000 ton Wind Surf. Come on! 3 of the ports are under the ports section of the review. Malaga was not listed as an option: I spent the day about 45 minutes east of Malaga in the small village of Nerja. The caves of Nerja were discovered in 1959 by several farm boys, and were quickly developed as a tourist attraction. There are 5 large chambers totaling 2 miles in length but only 3 are open to the public. The spaces run from very small to some rooms that were likely 100 feet tall and perhaps 80 feet wide. The first of the rooms are about 20 feet below the surface with other rooms much deeper. The description said "strenuous" with "more than 100 steps", likely something of an understatement. After I started counting I climbed 150 steps and probably a total near 250 (another 250 down), so everybody got a pretty decent workout. There was sufficient (artificial) light to see the many calcium formations but the lights were not really good for photography. At one point some of the columns were at a strange angle due to an ancient earthquake. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We just returned from a 14 night transatlantic cruise on Solstice, from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona. The Solstice is a beautiful ship, and we had high expectations based on other member reviews. Overall we were very well satisfied with ... Read More
We just returned from a 14 night transatlantic cruise on Solstice, from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona. The Solstice is a beautiful ship, and we had high expectations based on other member reviews. Overall we were very well satisfied with the ship and the cruise; however, in our opinion, as "dazzling" as the Solstice may be, it still has some shortcomings. Note that dining, entertainment, activities, and service were not among them. The Oceanview Cafe has an excellent layout, and is designed to minimize long lines that slow you down. We had to wait at times for a specific pizza coming out of the oven, or a hot sandwich to be prepared, but dining options are varied and well spaced out. Finding a table at popular times can be dicey, but is manageable. Food quality and variety was very good. We had a table for 4 at the 8:30 dinner seating on Deck 4 in the Grand Epernay Dining Room. We were seated near the windows, and we had a more open feeling, than similar areas on Deck 3. Our servers were top notch - very responsive to our needs and wishes. They ensured that dishes were done properly, and they remembered our likes and dislikes. I feel there may always be some minor food quality issues, but overall the quality was excellent. We found the food and service to be good enough that we only ate in a Specialty Restaurant one night. I have to note that they also had lobster tails that were bigger than large prawns. Wonderful! I agree with the Cruise Critic's comments about Solstice having "one of the best interior architectural designs." They also said "passenger flow is excellent." I disagree with that as a general statement. The entertainment shows are spread throughout the ship as usual. However, they put on some popular shows in the Grand Foyer on Deck 3 and Celebrity Central on Deck 4. Sight lines and seating for the Grand Foyer, even with people hanging over the railings on Decks 4 & 5, are terrible. Noise levels near the Passport Bar, and people just passing through made it hard to hear. Celebrity Central is a small circular area that is a key Deck 4 passage way between the Solstice Theater, the Cinema, and the rest of the ship. People exiting shows in the theater walk right through the viewing/performing area, during performances. I feel Celebrity should consider changes in the entertainment venues and look at making better use of the Sky Lounge. There are adequate bars and lounges and the service and entertainment were very good. We liked the Ensemble Lounge the best. The servers were among the best we have had. Drink prices were normal. Dead times in the lounges were not too bad. Bars in the Grand Foyer area tended to be crowded and loud. Entertainment in the Celebrity Theater was overall very good. As usual, the band was outstanding. For the crossing, Celebrity did an excellent job of adding a number of highly interesting guest speakers. Good move. Internet service was terrible and room availability lacking due to number of Apple classes put on. When you could get in and get online, it was a rip-off because it was so slow, you burned minutes like crazy. They advised not trying from our rooms because it was so bad. Our Concierge cabin was the same size and layout as regular Veranda cabins. Amenities are nicer and those were enjoyed. Canapes were not to rave about, but we still enjoyed them. Expanded Room Service menu is a winner. Bathroom layout is very good, and the sliding doors on the shower, are significantly better than a shower curtain. The bad news is that storage space is very, very poor. Worst -- they gave up a lot of closet space for a wider entryway into the cabin. Second worst -- the small drawers, that required you to stuff clothes in them, which caused more wrinkles. There are two storage areas above the bed, which my wife could barely reach. It was disappointing. We did not use any of the Celebrity shore excursions, as they are too expensive and groups are too large. We used Hop On Hop Off tours in Tenerife and Lisbon, and Top Day Tours for Seville. Top Day Tours was excellent. Embarkation in Fort Lauderdale was smooth and quick. Being in a Concierge cabin helped with that as we had a separate check in line, but all paper work was handled effectively. In Barcelona we had an airport transfer with Celebrity and that worked well. Only problem was getting up before daylight to meet the time schedule. Overall it was a fun cruise, with smooth seas, and you can't beat the value of a Transatlantic cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
As a retired Naval Aviator who spent far too much time on ships at sea in my younger days, I NEVER thought cruising would become my favorite form of vacationing. I became a fan (OK an ADDICT!) 36 hours into my first five day west coast ... Read More
As a retired Naval Aviator who spent far too much time on ships at sea in my younger days, I NEVER thought cruising would become my favorite form of vacationing. I became a fan (OK an ADDICT!) 36 hours into my first five day west coast repositioning. This was my eighth cruise, second with Celebrity, first on a Solstice class ship, and first transatlantic experience. I think I am a somewhat atypical cruiser, concerned first and foremost with pricing, and will book any itinerary that provides a favorable cost benefit analysis. (I almost never pay more than $50.00/day base rate) I don't require, am not impressed by, or interested in, ostentatious accommodations, I am never in my room for any other reason than sleeping, or getting ready to leave again, so I only book an inside cabin. I thought $599.00 per person for this 14 night transatlantic cruise with Celebrity fit my requirements QUITE nicely, and booked with my favorite online agency in mid February. I flew Airtran out of Minneapolis to Ft Lauderdale with a short layover in Atlanta. It was a typical flight in today's world of budget air travel, twenty bucks for the checked bag brought the total to under $200.00 I stayed at the Ramada Inn Ft Lauderdale Airport/Cruise Terminal. Definitely NOT a luxury resort, but it was clean and comfortable with a free shuttle from the airport and another free shuttle to the cruise terminal. Never used the pool or the bar, but the front desk was friendly, fast, and efficient and the free continental breakfast was just fine. Arrived at the pier just about 1145 after a 10 to 15 minute ride from the hotel. Already had Celebrity tags on both bags so strolled through the security line in less than 10 minutes. Waited in a check in line for 10 to 15 minutes before getting to the counter. Having checked in online before leaving home, the actual time at the counter was 3 or 4 minutes, most of which was taken by the rep having to walk down to a central point to get the room cards. After spending 60 seconds for the embarkation photo, we were on board by 1215. I keep reading horror story critiques from people complaining about the awful conditions and wait times for check in? Am I REALLY THAT lucky or are there an awful lot of spoiled rotten/incompetent whiners out there? From the outside, the Solstice is a stunningly beautiful work of science, technology, design, engineering, and decor. If you have any knowledge of the physics and chemistry of metals in a salt water environment you would appreciate just how difficult this is to achieve. "Jaw dropping," "amazing," "impressive," "incredible," and "awesome," are all appropriate descriptions. From the inside, the Solstice is a stunningly beautiful work of science, technology, design, engineering, and decor. If you have any knowledge of the physics and chemistry of any and all materials in a high traffic, constant use environment you would appreciate just how difficult this is to achieve. "Jaw dropping," "amazing," "impressive," "incredible," and "awesome," are all appropriate descriptions. The entire ship is absolutely beautiful but I think the high points are the theatre, Tuscan Grille, Michael's Club, indoor pool, and main dining room. If I ever sail on a Solstice class ship again I will request the same type room in or near the same location. (deck 3, starboard side forward) Never any noise or traffic, but less than 30 seconds to the central hub of activity. The cruise critic group on board had a "cabin crawl" that allowed us to see all classes of accommodations with the exception of the penthouse suite and all were great. The ONLY negative comment I can think of, (which was also voiced by quite a few others) was a shortage of closet space. The service by our room steward was flawless from day one and we left him an extra tip. The food and dining areas were all fantastic. From the separate stations instead of long lines in the buffet, (pay particular attention to the Asian curries) to the incredible views from the Tuscan Grille, and the truly elegant surroundings of Murano. We had select dining because we enjoy the flexibility of dining whenever we want, and the option of meeting new people every night. We prefer tables for six over either smaller or larger groups and never waited more than 90 seconds to be seated. There was exactly ONE incident of anything less than fantastic service when an assistant waiter was a little curt wile handing out menus. Again, I keep reading horror story critiques about bad food and poor service. Could it just possibly be, that it's not the food or service that is lacking but the level of civility and decency of some spoiled rotten and unpleasable cruisers? Due to a blatant oversight on our part, we never even made it to the Bistro for some of the desert crepes we heard so much about, but you HAVE to try the lobster and desert souffles in Murano, the coconut curry duck in Silk, and the ENTIRE MENUE in Tuscan Grille. (OK at least the fillet along with the scallops and shrimp) Ports of call and excursions were all fantastic and would require a book to detail. We chose the volcano park on Tennerife and the limestone caves in Malaga with Celebrity and both were extremely interesting and well worth the price. We booked full day tours to Seville from Cadiz, and Girona/Figueres from Barcelona with Spain Day Tours, and both were excellent. If you are a little more adventurous and informal, not requiring luxury transport, check out "we hate tourism tours" in Lisbon for a whirlwind, one of a kind ride. We didn't use the medical facilities or any child care/ kid's program services but did take a look at them. There were only 19 people under the age of 18 on this cruise! I am not a wine or beer person so can't comment on those aspects but if you like martinis... you have GOT to check out the 6 mini martini sampler for 17 bucks at the martini bar on deck 4. WOW!!! Best deal going on the ship! One pear, one apple, one raspberry, one sunrise, one watermelon, and one classic. They will pour your brand of choice if you ask, and even substitute one flavor of your choice for one in the lineup that you may not like... and the artistry of the preparation and the pour... you just HAVE to see it! And then there is the CHOCOLATE martini (industrial strength) served at the passport bar on deck 3... DON'T MISS IT. Disembarking... rolled our own luggage and walked off when we were ready, about 745. No muss, No fuss, less than 10 minutes to stamp your passport and meeting up with the buss tour less than 5 minutes after that. How can it get any easier? What am I missing... or am I just that lucky? Once again I read horror stories and can't help but think maybe it's a problem with a lack of cheese to go with all the w(h)ine out there??? Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
My wife and I are in our early 50s, very active and seldom take ship's tours (due to not wanting to be part of the herd moving around at port, we like being off on our own). This was our 16th cruise and we had always said that we ... Read More
My wife and I are in our early 50s, very active and seldom take ship's tours (due to not wanting to be part of the herd moving around at port, we like being off on our own). This was our 16th cruise and we had always said that we have never had a bad cruise. We still haven't, although this cruise is likely our least favorite of all of the cruises we have taken to date. It was a good cruise, although not great (as had been the case with some of the others). This cruise is a 13-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale, with port stops in Malaga and Cadiz, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal and Ponta Delgada, Azores. We also spent the prior 12 days onboard the Solstice for the Mediterranean cruise, which was a comparatively younger and more active cruise. This transatlantic cruise felt more like a floating nursing home. Embarkation in Barcelona was expected to be late due to the noro virus breakout on the previous cruise. We were on that cruise and were asked to get off the ship that day to allow for a thorough cleaning. Celebrity offered a free shore excursion as part of this request, which was a nice touch on their part. We had planned to go to Montserrat on the train, so we took the Celebrity tour there instead. In retrospect, we wished we had taken the train, since we had little time at Montserrat and were there at the wrong time of the day to see the key attractions. Anyway, that aside, Celebrity did their best to get everyone off the ship and the offer of a free shore excursion was a good thing to do on their part. We were assured that as back-to-back (B2B) cruisers, we would be escorted back onboard in a special line. That didn't turn out as planned. Yes, they did have a special line for B2B cruisers, but given that there were over 400 of us (out of 2800 total guests), they didn't prepare adequately and that line ended up being far longer than the lines for those joining the cruise in Barcelona, so the wait times were excessive. In addition, we ended up being herded through the area where pictures were being taken, rather than simply escorted back on ship, as was promised. The expectation was that the ship would be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and we would no longer be under the lockdown of the noro virus when we got back onboard. However, they continued the restricted activities for the entire cruise, which impacted the overall level of service on the cruise. I'm not sure what happened that they kept the ship under lockdown (the term used by the crew to describe the curtailed services during the noro virus outbreak) the entire cruise, but if they had everyone get off the ship, perhaps they also had some of those who were sick get off the ship and onto the free shore excursion tours? If so, that would have simply infected more people. Anyway, it was a severe restriction in the overall level of service throughout the ship, since they had so many more people assigned to serving in the lido (Oceanview Cafe) and additional cleaning activities (such as the ever-present hand sanitizers squirters at the entrance to the restaurants and even when entering the shops, as well as constantly wiping down bannister railings, etc.), which took away from other areas. The dining room service was slowed considerably. While we were asked to be patient several times throughout the cruise, that the crew was doing the best they could, it had a big impact on the level of service on the cruise. I do not fault the crew for this, but the management of the ship. I am sad to say that I am an RCL shareholder (RCL owns Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara) and this cruise showed a lack of overall management and training. The crew and staff were not adequately trained for handling this type of noro virus outbreak and it was an ongoing inefficient level of service, which, in the end, was apparently was not effective in stopping the noro virus. As if throwing a larger number of people at it would somehow solve it, rather than look at the processes themselves. Also, we were told that many of the crew were putting in extra and double shifts. As a former HR professional, this gives me cause to pause to consider what they were asking of the crew, apparently for no additional pay in return. If anything, the overall level of service went down and those who paid tips outside of automatic tipping (or additional tips) would likely have given less, rather than more. Several joked about this being the Oliver Twist cruise. "Please, sir, may I have more?" with hand in plate, waiting and hoping that the crew would see you and give you a morsel of bread. OK, it really wasn't that bad, but it certainly did not live up to the "Live like a celebrity" tagline used by Celebrity. So the noro virus thing was a definite damper on the overall cruise experience. Our conclusion is that we will not again take a cruise that has this combination: 1) large ship (over 2,000 passengers); and 2) majority of passengers arriving on long haul international flights. That combination means that there is a much higher likelihood of a noro virus outbreak. So a large ship (including this one) from a domestic port, such as Florida, probably would be fine. But when you combine a large ship with an itinerary such as this (transatlantic, where more than 90% of the passengers were coming from the US), it's a recipe for noro virus soup. The other thing that surprised us with this itinerary is the age range of the passengers. My wife and I (we are both early 50s) were younger than 98% of the other passengers. There were approximately 8-10 children onboard, 8-10 teenagers and maybe 30-40 adults younger than us. That leaves a whopping 2,700+ passengers older than us, some considerably older. I had not expected that this would be a floating nursing home, but about 20% of the passengers seemed that they could have been on leave from the nursing home and most of the passengers would be considered elderly (not just old, elderly). So there was a very slow pace to the cruise itself. We had never done a transatlantic (and probably will not again), so perhaps this is typical of all transatlantic cruises. The onboard activities seemed to reflect this age group as well. We have been on Royal Caribbean several times as well (this was our third Celebrity cruise) and the age range was much younger and the activities were, well, more active. This is probably a decent cruise if you are 65+ and would like to simply sit around and relax all day, playing bridge and dominoes. However, this is not a good cruise for you if you want to be active while onboard. I asked at Guest Relations one day (when requesting the daily newspaper, which you had to stand in line to request, another byproduct of the noro virus precautions) about whether all transatlantic cruises have passengers this old and she said yes, the elderly like this cruise because there are so many sea days where you don't have to get off the ship. We had a balcony cabin on the 6th floor (6235) on port side on the hump and were very, very pleased that we were on the outside of the hump. Look closely at your balcony cabin selection for this ship or you may be disappointed. First of all, the port side had the sun for the transatlantic crossing. It would have been much more difficult to be starboard side for the week plus of the crossing and never see the sun. But in general, most of the balcony cabins on the 6th floor have an obstructed view, although most are not listed as such by Celebrity. Look at a map of the ship (such as the one here at CruiseCritic) to understand which cabins are obstructed and which are not (although the map itself does not show the obstruction, see my following notes). Any of the cabins on the outside of the hump or within two of the outside on the angle are not obstructed. However, the balcony cabins forward of 6235 (which is located near at the stern stairway/elevator bank) in the center of the ship that are not on the hump have a lifeboat that is almost at the level of the railing in front of the cabin. So while were were able to see almost straight down into the sea and could watch dolphins, etc., these cabins only have a view further out at the horizon. The cabins toward the rear of the ship not on the hump also have a partially obstructed view, since the lifeboats are not as large in this area, but the winches to launch them are still just as high. Even the balconies on higher floors (such as 7, 8, 9, etc.) have a partially blocked sea view when looking down at say a 45 degree angle. So consider this fully when you book your balcony cabin to avoid disappointment. One other thing to consider with a balcony on the 6th deck port side is that the 5th deck port side promenade (which is not much of a promenade, since most of it is blocked by lifeboats) is a smoking area, so the cigarette smoke will be directly below your balcony, which may bother some people. This is especially apparent on the bump-out portion, where the smokers tend to congregate directly below (since the view is not obstructed by lifeboats). The cabin itself was nicely appointed and worked well for us for the 25 days (this cruise and the one prior). Although I had read complaints on other reviews of the overhead storage above the beds, we found it to be quite helpful for storing additional items that were not needed on a daily basis. However, I can see how the overhead storage would be difficult to reach for an elderly person with mobility issues. One other interesting design note is that the bed has rounded corners. So if you are either tall or sleep with your toes hanging off the end of the bed (as I do), you may find this bed design to be a challenge. Yet I've stubbed my toes on the corners of rectangular beds on past cruises and never did with this one, due to the rounded corners. Good for getting around the cabin, not as good for sleeping. Although the bed itself was very comfortable otherwise. The TV is a Samsung flat screen, about 30-32" and worked well for the variety of TV and movie offerings (including a large number of free on demand movies) in the cabin. It has a decent interface that worked well most of the time, although there were some issues with both sound lockout and being frozen in the middle of a movie (requiring a full reboot of the system, not obvious how to do this unless you are a techie, ask your cabin steward if this happens). We typically did not watch much TV or movies on past cruises, but found ourselves doing so on this cruise due to the lack of available entertainment on the ship. The bathroom area is the standard small bathroom layout, although we found the shower area to be larger than other ships. Yes, you could actually drop the soap and pick it up without having to step outside the shower. The balcony area had a small table and two chairs that recline almost flat to become loungers. My wife at times brought the vinyl padded backs to the couch out onto the balcony to make a padded area on which to lay out in the sun. In a design flaw on the ship, the opaque glass separating the balconies (which could be opened if you have adjoining rooms with family members) would rattle with vibration of the ship. The quick fix was to simply roll up some paper to force in between the glass and the separator, problem solved. Another design flaw that only showed up on days that they were cleaning the balcony directly above (twice during the cruise) was that the water drainage channel leaked (we're talking gallons, not just drips) onto the front half of our balcony. We alerted the room steward, but apparently nothing could be done to fix it until dry dock (which is scheduled for January 2012, although just for one week). One specific area of concern we had with this cabin is that the door is in full view of the hallway in front of the stairwell. Just be careful when opening the door that you don't expose your spouse to the world. In a rather weird design quirk, the peep hole in the door sent a laser of light from the lobby area directly to the bed at night. Since we didn't have a cover over the peep hole, we had to stuff some tissue in there to block the light. Regarding noise, the cabin was fairly well insulated. The only exception was the one evening when they did Dancing with the Stripes in the 3rd floor lobby and there were people watching from all of the atrium levels (including our level, 6th level). People were screaming (yes, screaming, since the level of noise was how they determined the winner) from our deck level (this happened on both of our cruises) and it was also rather late at night, so either go to bed late that night or expect to be awakened by screaming in the nearby atrium. The cabin steward (Rufina) was excellent and was always there to meet any of the needs of the cabin and to keep things clean and tidy. One additional note about the ship is that it does not have a self-service laundry room, as we have found on other ships where we have been on long voyages. So on a longer cruise (we were on for 25 days with our B2B 12-day and 13-day cruises), you will have to plan for the additional expense of cleaning your clothes through the onboard service (which is quite expensive, can run into hundreds of dollars just for doing laundry for two people, not including any dry cleaning) or take a part of one of your shore days to track down a local laundry service. The entertainment onboard was both excellent and average. The singers and dancers were quite good, some were even outstanding. While most singers and dancers on cruise ships strike us as being not good enough for Broadway, the singers in particular were of a Broadway quality level. The shows provides were well staged and choreographed, especially "Celebrity, the Show" (their Cirque du Soliel type show). This show gave several of the dancers the opportunity to show their skills beyond dancing, including two dancers who were outstanding at strength gymnast moves as well as ballet moves. One of the dancers was outstanding at doing a hula hoop routine and another dancer was excellent with both yo-yo (yes, yo-yo) and juggling. The other mainline entertainers were good to excellent. We had Pete Matthews (comedy juggler) onboard, whom we had seen on a prior cruise. He was outstanding and we went to his show twice one night. Andy James, a sleight of hand magician, was also excellent. The other acts were good and kept us entertained in the evenings, we never felt the need to walk out of a performance early. However, once you got outside the headline shows at Solstice Theatre, the entertainment was average at best. There was an a capella quartet onboard (Blend Tech) that was quite good, but most of the time they performed in Entertainment Court on the 4th floor, which meant that most people were standing to watch them, and usually only for 15 minutes. So it was a good act, but not the best venue for their talents and not long enough for each performance. The other musical acts around the ship were typically lacking. Ray Brown Jr. Quartet played only so-so jazz with a limited repertoire (we heard the same songs repeated several times during the cruise) and typically had only a few people listening. Anton Marlokov was an acoustic guitarist who rarely had anyone actively listening, same thing for Igor Pasltsev on piano. The string trio, Voyage Strings Trio, was quite off and it was apparent that they lacked both talent and any sense of timing for playing together--I have seen street musicians who would put this group to shame. The DJ, Krazy Prince, was simply a guy with a laptop loaded with iTunes, going from one song to the next. None of these acts had any level of engagement with the audience. The party band, Top Notch, was a lively 6-person band that was the only one really worth watching. Top Notch had real energy, even though they lacked an appropriate venue in which to perform in the evening (the only venue that worked well for them was the Sky Lounge on the 14th floor or the pool deck on 12, yet they were typically playing in the 3rd floor foyer area). In addition to the lackluster performances of most of the entertainers (Blend Tech and Top Notch being the exceptions), the timing and scheduling left much to be desired. Most sets were short--as little as 15 minutes (in the case of Blend Tech) to 60 minutes max and often the entertainers quit before their scheduled time (Top Notch consistently shut down 5-10 minutes early, apparently to give time to pack up their instruments). There were often times when there was literally nothing taking place onboard the ship during the evening and when there was entertainment, it was a max one hour set. Not sure if this was a scheduling error or if it was part of Celebrity's attempt to get you to gamble or shop (always open). Another real miss was not having a consistent outdoor pool band. Although we had temps around 70 each day during the transatlantic portion and plenty of people laying out by the pool, Top Notch only performed a few times and only for an hour each day. They needed a good Caribbean band playing by the pool during the day and a good piano bar singer in the evening, but didn't have either. Maybe they add these on the Caribbean itineraries, but that was not the case with this cruise. The food onboard in the main dining room was good to excellent and the service was good, although somewhat slow. We tried two of the specialty restaurants, Murano and Tuscan Grille, both were excellent both in terms of food and service, although debatable if they are worth the extra cover charge ($40/pp for Murano and $30/pp for Tuscan Grill). Feedback from others on Silk Harvest ($25/pp cover charge) was consistently negative. We likely would have purchased the discounted 3 dinner package at $70/pp (vs. $95 separately) at the beginning of the second cruise but for the negative reviews on Silk Harvest. We also ate at the crepes restaurant (Bistro on Five), which was well worth the minimal cover charge ($5/pp). As we had experienced in the past, you need to come there hungry and be willing to leave food if you are going to get through each course. Ask for partial/half portions to keep the portion size down, otherwise you won't make it all the way to dessert. We went a few times to Oceanview Cafe (their version of the lido) on the 14th floor, but the food there was average at best and the need for them to serve the food cafeteria style (due to the noro virus outbreak) took away from it being a viable venue. Because of this, you got the portion they gave you, rather than taking what you wanted. Getting the right portion of condiments and seasonings (even salt and pepper were restricted to servers) was next to impossible. And the service was extremely slow, since you had to wait in line at each food station. We also went to AquaSpa Cafe on deck 12 several times for breakfast and lunch and enjoyed it, as it was the only healthy alternative onboard. We did have room service for breakfast most mornings on our balcony and that worked out very nicely. Note that you can request things that are not on the room service pre-printed menu (as long as they are generally available) by simply writing it into an open area, then circling it. My wife usually had smoked salmon each morning, even though it wasn't listed on the menu. The lunches which we ate onboard on sea days were generally quite good in the main dining room and AquaSpa Cafe, although they were not as good in Oceanview Cafe. We generally try to avoid the buffet, so this wasn't a big issue for us. However, if your style is to eat many/most of your meals at the buffet, it was definitely of a lower quality than the main dining room. And this was the first cruise ship where we did not see trays provided in the buffet, so often the diners were juggling two plates and a drink. Needless to say, there were several drops along the way and the need to clean up after the drops. The Cruise Director, Stuart, was probably our least favorite cruise director of all the cruises we have taken. He simply lacked an engaging personality, charm and wit that we have seen from other cruise directors. He mainly acted as the master of ceremonies introducing the acts, then after the act had completed, asking us to give another round of applause (which often felt obligatory at that point rather than spontaneous), then giving the pitch for other activities taking place onboard and finishing with his "Remember, wash your hands" instructions, like we are all two-year-olds. No real stage presence or charisma, he's in the wrong role. He was placed into the Cruise Director role after a successful stint at the crew activities director. He always seemed to be uncomfortable onstage and couldn't wait to hand over the microphone to the next act. His team also does the scheduling for the activities, which was very poorly executed. For example, the Beyond the Podium series typically had two speakers each day at sea, and several times they scheduled one at 12:15 and another at 1:30. The first speaker typically ended about 1:15. So if you wanted to see both speakers, you had to opt out of eating lunch or just grab a snack (since the main dining room is open 12:00-1:30 for lunch and the lunch buffet in the Oceanview Cafe is open from 12:00-2:30). The easy answer would have been to simply schedule these presentations for 10a (or 11a) and 2p (or 3p) to allow people time in between for lunch. As mentioned prior, there were typically dead spots each evening for activities and entertainment. Most lounge entertainers did sets of only 1 hour (and most quit early), after which you needed to move somewhere else for a different entertainer. Perhaps this is part of the Celebrity strategy for moving people around the ship to get them to gamble or shop in between, but we would have loved to have had a piano bar singer to stay with for the evening either before or after the headline show, yet not to be. The sports activities onboard were severely lacking, but that was probably due to the age range of the guests. I showed up for dodgeball and I was the only one there. Kinda hard to play dodgeball when you're the only one. No pool activities like you would typically see on a warm weather cruise, even though the several days at sea on the crossing were very nice weather and could have used some sort of activity on the pool deck. The Hot Glass Show is unique to Celebrity and very interesting. I went to the show several times and enjoyed watching them create different works of glass art. The lawn area immediately behind the glass show area was typically underutilized, with only an hour or two of scheduled events there each day. It would have been nice to have that area open all day for bocce ball, croquet and other lawn sports, especially since the more active sports were being cancelled due to lack of interest. Table tennis was a popular activity onboard, although the venue used was less than ideal. While the tables were typically located in Quasar, an off to the side (and generally underutilized venue except for ping pong), they moved the tables out into Entertainment Court for the tournaments. The problem with that location is that it is also the traffic area where people move from one end of the ship to the other (particularly the Solstice Theatre, which has the main entry at that level nearby), so there are people walking into the playing area on a consistent basis, making a continuous game without a hinder rather difficult. Solstice Theatre was utilized for Beyond the Podium speakers during the sea days. Some of these speakers (such as Dr. Holly Grant and Anthony Dalton, sponsored by Smithsonian) were excellent, telling stories that went far beyond their PowerPoint presentations. Others (such as Dr. Kathleen Wulf) were simply recitations of their PowerPoint slides, which consisted only of research they had done to put together the presentation. In the latter case, it just felt like she had put together the presentation to get a free cruise and she presented like it was a sixth grade history class, with her husband operating the PowerPoint slides (probably to get him a free cruise as well?). The other speakers (sponsored by Smithsonian) were seasoned speakers and storytellers, bringing their topics to life. The Internet connection onboard is the typical satellite connection with its characteristic works sometimes performance. I used my mobile phone to access my e-mail and was able to send and receive all of my e-mails each morning and evening with only 1 minute of connectivity. However, general Internet surfing was painfully slow, almost like going back to dial-up days. And I'm lucky that all of my friends and family heeded my request not to send large attachments, which would have had a big impact in my daily download. The ship has a few interesting nooks and crannies that aren't obvious. One is the deck space immediately in front of the Fitness Center on the 12th floor in front of the ship. This area was underutilized and unknown to most, although Celebrity did not always have the furniture out on the deck. But it is a nice quiet area for sail ins. Another is deck 16, which is a great place for laying out in the sun on a busy day. There is a 1/8 mile walking track on the 14th floor (one deck above the pool deck on 12, there is no 13), although it is in a less-than-deal location, since the Oceanview Cafe is also located on deck 14 instead of 12 (most other cruise ships have it on the same level as the pool deck, Solstice has it one level higher). Due to the location of the cafe, many of the overfed buffet eaters waddle from the front of the ship (where the cafe/buffet is located) to the rear (where their elevator bank is located) along the outdoor walking track. You can walk quickly, you just have to be prepared to walk around those who are just using it as a hallway, not a walking track. During our 25 days onboard, I only saw three people attempt to use it as a jogging track and they spent most of their time dodging people on the track. The pools (two outdoors, one indoors) are too small to swim laps, but are large enough if you are just looking for a good soaking. There are six hot tubs (four outdoor, two indoor) that have bubbles, but no jets, So don't except an invigorating Jacuzzi jet, they are more just for relaxing. The indoor solarium area has several very comfortable and intimate seating areas, perhaps the best setup we have seen on any cruise ship. Great when it's cooler outside, although probably not used as much during warmer weather in the Caribbean. While activities like a bridge tour, galley tour and other behind-the-scenes tours are typically offered on ships of other cruise lines for free, Celebrity offers them at a charge. Just one more way to squeeze out another dollar, but we had done all of these before on other ships (for free), so we did not do them on this cruise. The ship itself is huge, so we were rather surprised at both: 1) the amount of movement we encountered, especially in our first sea day after Lisbon; and 2) the amount of creaking in the ship. We have experienced similar amounts of movement in previous cruises (where the entire line of people walking appeared to be drunk, swaying from side to side in the corridors), but it had always been on smaller ships. We were surprised that such a large ship could not stay stable. There were quite a few people experiencing seasickness, which likely further contributed to the noro virus lockdown (since the medical staff may view any type of sickness as potentially being noro). Also, we had never heard such a large amount of creaking on the ship. One passenger commented that it sounded like we were breaking up. It was quite loud, both in the cabins at night while sleeping as well as in the common areas (especially around the steps). While the ship had several nice design elements (such as the lawn court on the 15th deck), it also had its share of design flaws, which created chokepoints for traffic flow. This, combined with the advanced age of most of the cruisers, meant that you simply had to walk slowly when going through any public area. There are only four exits from the Solstice Theatre, two of which are from the balcony, so it takes a large amount of time to funnel everyone out through those chokepoints. At least they did not typically setup the t-shirt sales in the hallways, a trademark of Royal Caribbean's ships we have sailed. It is a smoking ship, although the smokers are restricted to just a few public areas. Is it a beautiful ship? It is a nice ship, although not really beautiful. It's simply a mass market ship designed to provide a maximum number of balcony cabins. Because it is newer (built in 2008), the ship was overall in good shape with no signs of wear-and-tear showing up yet. Disembarkation was an unexpected nightmare. It felt like being in a long, snaking Disneyland queue, except that everyone was dragging suitcases with them. Several elderly passengers simply cut the line and said they refused to stand in a line that long, so the rest of us just waited that much longer. Celebrity simply wanted everyone off the ship. Further disorganization once we exited the building for the taxi line. Overall poorly managed on the part of Celebrity. It was like they didn't know they would have that many people arriving in port that day? Would we go on the Solstice again? Probably not. Would we consider going on Celebrity again? Yes, although not on a transatlantic and not on a large ship with an international debarkation port which may be more subject to noro virus. My wife and I decided that we are going to try more small ships and unique itineraries. We already have planned to go on a world cruise on Pacific Princess in January and this cruise was a good tuneup/preparation for us. That ship is considerably smaller (less than 700 passengers). Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Although we had done Transatlantic crossings twice on Cunard (each direction) we had never done a Cruise Transatlantic. But, we love the Solstice class ships and it was a great offer and itinerary from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale, with ... Read More
Although we had done Transatlantic crossings twice on Cunard (each direction) we had never done a Cruise Transatlantic. But, we love the Solstice class ships and it was a great offer and itinerary from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale, with some interesting ports along the way. Our cabin was the typical Solstice balcony cabin, no wasted space, but certainly comfortable with a better than adequate bathroom. We were a party of four, with two single woman friends joining my husband and me. We had decided this was a good time to try the anytime seating for dinner and the first night ate in the area set aside. It was not a good experience, with the servers rushing around, people coming and going throughout the meal and it was crowded. Our server tried her very best but we just weren't satisfied with the experience. We asked to change and were given an excellent table in the MDR, with a great wait team and pleasant location. Since we had already visited most of the Ports we didn't take any excursions but all the ports were easily accessible for walks or hop-on bus tours and the port days were enjoyable. Punta Delgada, in the Azores was new to all of us so we took a sightseeing and wine tasting excursion. Parts of it were fascinating and lovely; the wine tasting was more amusing then enlightening and we had time to stroll along the wharf area before we had to board. Our favorite place on the Solstice was the Hot Glass Studio. We loved the shows and didn't miss a single one. The talent and exuberance of the artists was terrific and we were thrilled to purchase a piece at the charity auction on the last day. We are looking forward to our next Transatlantic on the Equinox April 16. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
My wife and I are in our 60s and have been cruising for many years. We love Celebrity. However, the transatlantic cruise which sailed from Barcelona on 11/28/11 seemed like two distinct vacations. We got to the port in Barcelona around ... Read More
My wife and I are in our 60s and have been cruising for many years. We love Celebrity. However, the transatlantic cruise which sailed from Barcelona on 11/28/11 seemed like two distinct vacations. We got to the port in Barcelona around noon. We were told that boarding would be delayed because the crew was giving the ship a special cleaning to combat norovirus. We were given a number and told to find a seat. We did and received snacks from the agents at the port. Our number was called and we boarded around 2:30. We went up to the Oceanview Cafe for lunch and it was mobbed. It took us awhile to find a table but we did, and had lunch. The food in the cafe was good, but nothing special. Since we sailed on the Equinox last year we knew our way around the ship. We got our luggage and unpacked and went to dinner. We had select dining. We met some interesting people in 2 weeks of select dining. The show that night was a short variety show offering a taste of what would be performed during the cruise. Celebrity has insisted on spritzing everyone at least 50 times a day to clean our hands. Really. The virus was already on the ship. We did not bring it aboard. In addition the illness is a virus and alcohol will not kill it so leave us alone. Our first day was a sea day we passed the time by playing bridge. We also tried to play trivia which became a problem. The entertainment staff had one American on board and two Canadians== the cruise director and his assistant. The staff members who conducted the trivia spoke in very heavy Italian and Spanish accents and were difficult to understand. I will come back to that later. The ports were a lot of fun. We did not take a ships tour but went on our own. We took a walking tour in Malaga and it was great. We did the same in Lisbon. In Cadiz we took the hop on hop off and in the Azores we shared a cab. That first week was like any of our past cruises. A little sea and ports to get off and explore the cities we stop at. We thoroughly enjoyed up to that point. Now the second half begins. BORING. First let me tell of the entertainment. There was a good production show with the ship's song and dance company performing Broadway . The Cirque show was not my thing and I found it put me to sleep, but that is a matter of taste as every one else seemed to enjoy it. They had a juggler who was pretty funny. He made us laugh and we enjoyed him. Next up was a singer named Greg Bonham. This guy sang and played the trumpet. He should stick to the trumpet. He was very popular with they people from a development in Florida which had about 80 people on board the Solstice. I guess that is because he plays there too. What a claim to fame, a career performing for the 55+ set in their clubhouses. The magician was not that good and the comedian was not too bad. I save the best for last. The had a singer who I think was female (but she might have been a female impersonator) come out and tell us she sang just like Cher. She was a huge embarrassment, and half the audience walked out. With 800 elite guests on board, Celebrity should be ashamed to offer such experienced cruisers this insultingly bad entertainment. The activities staff. As I mentioned, the people running the trivia games were hard to understand and each game took forever due their accents and mispronunciations. They ended up having to spell all the words in the questions. Each activities staff member was in charge of selecting their own questions. One fellow in particular wanted ask trivia on Russian space. My wife and I don't really know much about space so we decided to leave. The staff member called after us to stay because we might learn something. We did not appreciate being talked down to by a snotty 21 year old. Another said purported to be running a modern sports trivia game, but all the questions were about European soccer and cricket. No fun at trivia. The cruise director Stuart was never around and seemed very lazy. He was lackluster and had absolutely no charisma. He was an emcee at the shows and every night told us to wash our hands in warm soapy water for 20 seconds. Most of our handwashing was done in public restrooms where the water ran for 3 seconds at a time and ranged from ice cold to luke warm. And yet, with all their precautions, at least 58 passengers visited the infirmary with gastro-intestinal problems -- this information came from one of the "patient's" sessions with the ship's doctor. The problem with the TA was there were very few activities in the daytime and at night. And when there was more than one appealing activity, ie a lecture and a game or a show, they were typically scheduled at the same time, particularly 11AM and 3 PM. There was only one pool party, but the staff entertainers only stayed for 15 minutes, and with no food being served, the party cleared out in about 20 minutes. There was no chocolate buffet, no special brunch like we have experienced in our other cruises. The excuse for everything was that it was to protect us from the virus. We will travel on celebrity again. in fact I have already booked a future cruise with them. But no more TA's. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Harpo's view was right on but we had a slightly different view. This was our first transatlantic cruise and we can't think of a more civilized way of returning home; that is, until the chaos on disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale, ... Read More
Harpo's view was right on but we had a slightly different view. This was our first transatlantic cruise and we can't think of a more civilized way of returning home; that is, until the chaos on disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale, which was simply inexcusable. In addition to the long lines that Harpo described, we had made the mistake of buying transfer to the airport, having experienced long taxi lines in the past. When we finally cleared customs - an hour after hitting the pier - the line for the bus was a disorganized crowd and, with no bus in sight, we grabbed a taxi (the fare is less that $15) and wrote off the prepaid transfer. We have a slightly different view on the efforts to contain the virus. We like the fact that passengers were not allowed to touch the food in the Oceanview Cafe and were willing to endure slight delays. Staff was very helpful and we have seen too many passengers (and not just kids) on other cruises touch food and then return it to the serving dish. At the suggestion of our travel agent, we opted for Aqua Class so our dining room experience was rather different - on repositioning cruises, it's a real bargain. That gave us access to BLU, the dining room reserved for Aqua Class and suite passengers. The food at dinner in BLU rivaled four star restaurants in both quality and presentation and the service was exceptional. Seating in BLU is open (another plus) so, by halfway through the cruise, we knew virtually all of the servers and they knew us. Inexplicably, while the service in BLU is just as good at breakfast, the food was inferior to the Oceanview Cafe and the selection was more limited - no oatmeal? So we opted for room service or the Cafe on all but disembarkation day. The Oceanview Cafe was excellent both at breakfast and lunch. Even with the occasional queues, the food stations are sufficiently far apart that congestion did not become a problem and the quality and variety were as good as we have seen in an eatery serving so many people. Staff did a great job,even they had to be putting in extra long hours even by cruise staff standards, at keep the food fresh and the tables cleared so we never had to wait for a table. Again, as Harpo noted, the rooms, although tight, are well-designed and fitted out. (Aqua Class does not have different rooms.) We were impressed with the intelligent use of technology to all of the things one usually expects plus being able to order room service and view our photos on the TV in the cabin. We dis find a few areas where Celebrity could have improved our experience. The entertainment, both the resident company and guest performers, was third-rate even by cruise ship standards. Harpo was spot on in describing Stewart. He may be a great organizer but he simply lacks the presence we have come to expect in a cruise director. On the whole, the activity schedule was pretty limited (five trivia games a day??) especially with so many at sea days. And two last quibbles: (1) we simply don't understand why Celebrity made no effort to bring on local culture. Other cruise lines do. We were in Iberian waters for five days before setting off across the pond so we assumed that they might have a flamenco dancer or guitarist or both. Instead, we got the same old stuff. (2)dress codes have become a sham. I am agnostic on whether we have formal nights or not but, if the cruise line insists on keeping them, I resent getting dressed "to the nines" and going to the dining room to find half the folks in very casual attire. If you can't enforce the policy - and I understand why that would cause conflict with some passengers, then drop the charade of formal nights. This problem is, of course, not unique to Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
The most important thing to remember as you read this review is that Solstice had a norovirus outbreak some two cruises before ours and was therefore at Code Red before the ship even arrived in Barcelona to pick us up. We were apprised of ... Read More
The most important thing to remember as you read this review is that Solstice had a norovirus outbreak some two cruises before ours and was therefore at Code Red before the ship even arrived in Barcelona to pick us up. We were apprised of the situation by a Cruise Critic member doing a back-to-back. He posted on the roll call that we would be delayed boarding and why. I am grateful for the heads up. We were able to get a late checkout from our hotel and then make our way leisurely to the pier. Embarkation . . . we arrived to board at about 2:30 pm and dropped our bags with the porters straight away. We were in Concierge Class and went directly to check-in. We were handed a boarding card and went into Duty Free for some meandering. About the time we were finished wandering, our boarding card was called and we boarded the ship. Easy, easy, easy. One thing that got missed at the check-in was that our dining table (late seating) number was written on the little folder that they put your seapasses in. That was the only notification of our table number. More on that later. So, this was the first we noted a reduction in the use of paper, no card in the stateroom advising the dining table number. The second thing I noticed regarding paper reduction was the lack of serviettes under the glasses for wine and beer in the Ocean View Cafe and most bars. Sloppy. Service . . . Because of the threat of norovirus, there was no self-service of ANYTHING allowed in the Ocean View Cafe. The staff poured all drinks, there were no salt and pepper shakers (they would hand you individually wrapped salt and pepper only), the staff had to squirt your ketchup or Tabasco or whatever condiment you wanted. We were chastised for reaching for utensils all nicely wrapped in linen napkins just waiting to be used. We had to wait for them to be handed to us. The lines for drinks were the worst. The serving staff didn't really have a good plan for how they would handle the orders. Was there a queue? Where was the queue? What drinks could you get from which queue? Regarding the coffee . . . It really does matter if you order regular coffee and watch the staff member draw from the decaf pot because they're out of regular. It really does matter. A simple, "We're out, come back later or go over there" would suffice, but alas, they attempted to decaffeinate us. Speaking of coffee, I don't know why there was a shortage of coffee cups, but they used disposable cups A LOT (which really made no sense when you consider the other attempts at paper use reduction) until they ran out three days before the cruise was over. They started serving hot coffee in plastic water glasses. Euw. I went to the Baccio and paid for a coffee because I couldn't stand it anymore. Every entry into every common area required an anti-bacterial squirt. They blocked most entrances into the shops in order to funnel people toward the anti-bacterial staff. It was funny that our hands were just drying off from our walk through the casino when we had to be squirted again to get into a shop. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they were so diligent about it. We did not get sick and no one we knew got sick. We heard near the end of the cruise that crew members kept coming down with it. Service at the Ocean View Cafe, where we ate most breakfasts and lunches, was uneven. It's hard not to complain when you arrive in front of a station with three servers and they are so busy looking past you or chatting that it's as though you're invisible. This happened repeatedly. My guess is that English language skills among the staff may be the problem. I think they fear offering help because it has the potential to lead into miscommunication which results in trouble from their boss, so they stand there hoping each other will be the first to offer help. All our lives would be simplified if the guests wouldn't make special requests and just go with the flow. Take what you get. Celebrity's experiment in eliminating the use of trays in the Ocean View Cafe is a dismal failure in my opinion. One hand for a drink and one hand for a plate or bowl and that's all you get unless you care to make a second or third trip and then you lose your table (And where do you put your utensils? Your pocket? Your mouth?). Horrible. I feel sorry for those with palsy or other balance problems. I think a tray really does make a difference. At least one person might be able to manage food for two. I'd hazard a guess on this one and say that they probably sell more drinks because ordering a drink assures the staff will deliver it right to your table. I want the trays back! We skipped dinner the first night. We went to the Tuscan Grill on the second night and ordered the filet mignon. Excellent food, excellent service, excellent everything. We ate dinner during late seating in the main dining room on all the other nights. I went to the mdr during first seating on the third night to find out our table number (remember I didn't know it was written on the little blue folder the seapass cards came in) and had to wait for a very long time while the head waiter dealt with people who wanted to change tables. One of them was very unpleasant, making loud threats. The other was quite humorous -- two single women wanting a table with single men who were not gay (I have a new appreciation for the job of a head waiter). Once it was my turn, the head waiter told me our table number, but then said no one was left at our table of 8 except us and gave me several options. We could remain there alone or move to the next table which had room for two or move somewhere else. We opted to join the table near ours and it was the right decision. The people we dined with were interesting and fun. I have to say a word about Flavio here. He was the head waiter (I'm not exactly sure of his title) for our section of the main dining room. A rumpled Eastern European, he looks like a wise guy that could break your legs with a word. He was the ultimate in efficiency and kindness, however, so good at his job, a pleasure to watch because of the incongruity between the way he looked and the way he worked. Props to Flavio. Food . . . it just gets worse and worse every cruise we take. The buffet food is nearly always cold by the time it is served, much less to your table. So much gelatin-based dessert, there's not much satisfying there. I had a veal chop one night at dinner in the mdr that was not edible. On the good side, the sushi bar was great. The pineapple was ripe and wonderful. I had an Asian Udon noodle dish for lunch in the mdr one day that was the best meal of the cruise. Fabulous. It does seem that cruise lines are realizing they can cash in on little things just like the airlines do. So now, for a small fee you can order specialty coffee, crepes, gelato, etc. At one time they would have included all of that in the price of the cruise. We went to Bistro on Five on the second to last day of the cruise. It was quite full and the service was ridiculously slow. We each ordered a different kind of crepe, but they weren't worth writing home about. Bistro on Five was not a good experience and I wish I had saved my money. Thumbs down! The concept seems to use a lot of ship space that could be better utilized. Why not turn the specialty restaurants into lunchtime venues in order to maximize the space? Activities . . . we enjoyed the lectures, the gym, the outdoor track, some of the performers (Doug Cameron and Siobhan Phillips). There seems to be a dearth of live music around the ship and that's a shame. Stateroom . . . we got upgraded! We had booked a verandah room on deck 9 and ended up in the stern on deck 10 in concierge class. It was bliss. This was our first trip on a Solstice class ship, having been on a Millennium three times and Century once. The room on Solstice was larger than any we've ever been in. It had a large bathroom. There was lots of storage. The TV was a flat screen. It was the best stateroom we've ever had or are likely to have in the future. Absolutely wonderful. The verandah did get a lot of soot, but they cleaned it every few days and it wasn't a big deal. Room Service . . . excellent. Cheese plates aren't on the room service menu, but we started ordering them and they were great. We did eat breakfast in our room the first few days and the food always appeared when we asked for it and it was what we had ordered. No complaints at all. Disembarkation . . . I worked for an airline at an airport for ten years and they always said that baggage claim was the last chance to make a good impression. Celebrity failed miserably at this. We were scheduled to depart the ship at 9:40am, but had to be out of the room by 8am. We found comfortable seating in the library to wait. It was the best ship exit I've ever experienced, we walked right off at 9:40am. As soon as we hit the ground it became a nightmare. The queue was like one found at Disneyland where they snake you around and around. It was raining. We were covered with an awning, but it dripped in some places and the wind was blowing the rain onto us at times, but we couldn't go anywhere for shelter. Once through the queue, we found our luggage and got into the queue again for customs/immigration. It seems to me that Celebrity could do a better job coordinating with the US Government over this. We were in no hurry to go anywhere, we had no flight to catch. I understand that Celebrity needed to clean the ship due to norovirus again after our disembarkation. They offered the back-to-backs a free shore excursion to get them off the ship. That's really all Celebrity cared about, was getting everyone off the ship. It was awful. We were in a queue on the ground for over an hour. Let me end by saying that a bad day cruising beats a good day working anytime, and though this review may sound like a whinathon the cruise was wonderful and there's very little I would change. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
My husband and I have done multiple transatlantics but we have to admit that for the first time we were ready for the cruise to end. The ship and staff were for the most part lovely but the entertainment was sorely lacking. Each night ... Read More
My husband and I have done multiple transatlantics but we have to admit that for the first time we were ready for the cruise to end. The ship and staff were for the most part lovely but the entertainment was sorely lacking. Each night about 11:00 the streets were rolled up, bars and casino were closed and everyone went to bed. Although the service was fabulous, the food in the dining room and buffet was just OK. We enjoyed Tuscan Grill and Murano but Silk and Bistro on 5 were awful! The cabin and cabin Steward were up to Celebrity's usual standard. The public areas were often closed for private events. The poor crew did their best to act cheerful while being obviously overworked with trying to contain the noro virus. This aspect didn't have an adverse effect on our experience. The total lack of activities and poor cruise director were in our opinion the primary problem. We have always enjoyed Celebrity but will really think long and hard before sailing this line again, especially on a transatlantic. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This cruise was our third TA, and the best so far!! We had a great experience, but would like to see a few changes! Our cabin was wonderful (with one major flaw, to describe later), the food was "so-so", and the crew were all ... Read More
This cruise was our third TA, and the best so far!! We had a great experience, but would like to see a few changes! Our cabin was wonderful (with one major flaw, to describe later), the food was "so-so", and the crew were all FANTASTIC!! We would definitely do this again, and will hopefully plan another TA in the near future!! I have read some feel TA's to be full of elderly, but I am almost 60 and I do NOT feel elderly!! I HOPE to give a review that would help you to decide if this would be for you, and one that would help others to book the Solstice!! THE SHIP: The ship was beautiful!! I have nothing negative to say about the ship!! I really enjoy the Solstice class of ships, and feel THE SOLSTICE is much better than THE ECLIPSE, and hope to travel on her again one day!! THE CABIN: We just loved our S1 cabin!! It had so much room, we couldn't believe we were on a ship! We really enjoyed the AFT view from this room, and the bed was super comfortable!! We had plenty of storage space, and the very large balcony was enjoyed every day!!! We have one VERY NEGATIVE thing to say about this room, NOT the S1 cabin. IT WAS VERY NOISY FROM ABOVE!! The chairs above us, being dragged and moved constantly, was something I would like to see Celebrity CHANGE!! We were awoken every morning from the noise, and even at midnight when we had hoped to have a quiet evening, the noise again!! Celebrity needs to change this...NOW!!! It would be easy for them to add plastic or rubber to the legs of the chairs above, and this noise would be gone!!! After all the chairs are a part of the beautiful AFT view of the Oceanview Cafe. Please change this!!! This room is so romantic and beautiful and roomy!! This cabin is perfect in every way, minus the noise!! If you ever get a chance to get one of the S1 cabins...grab it!! You will not be sorry you did, just not so happy with the noise if you are on deck 12!!! THE FOOD: This is one thing I realize all the ships have changed! The food in the specialty restaurants was AMAZING!! We LOVED the Murano and the Tuscan Grille! We felt the quality of the food in the MDR was just AVERAGE and the food in the specialty restaurants was WAY ABOVE AVERAGE!! It reminds me of the food we used to get on all the cruise ships! But, with the cost of fuel etc., I realize the companies have had to change something to be more profitable, and the quality of the food is where Celebrity has made the change. I miss the wonderful meals we would have nightly on each and every ship for the first 10 years we cruised, but in the last 5 years I feel the quality is NOT there!! So, we decided to try the specialty restaurants, and we were NOT disappointed!!!! There we found the food we used to have on our cruises. Every bite was delicious, and the service was equally fantastic!! So, for us, on our next cruise, we will eat in the specialty restaurants when we want a WONDERFUL meal!! This cruise we had very interesting and fun table mates, so even with the very average food served in the MDR, we loved eating in the MDR for the company!!! In review...the food in the MDR was just AVERAGE, but the service was TOP NOTCH(thanks Henry and Zemni), and the food and service in TUSCAN AND MURANO was EXCELLENT!!! THE ENTERTAINMENT: I found this year's entertainment very good! Except for a few things I didn't enjoy, I thought MOST of the entertainment was fun and interesting! All of the Celebrity Life cooking shows, and the OCEANS talks and the entertainment with the Solstice's crew were all wonderful!!! We were both surprised and entertained very much!! Thanks to the Solstice Crew for all of their involvement with the passengers!!! We really enjoyed the enrichment series offered this TA also. THE BISTRO AND CAFE BACIO:...these two places on deck 5 are both wonderful!! If you are lucky enough to find yourself on a solstice class ship, be sure and visit The Bistro and Cafe Bacio!! I think the crepe's were wonderful and the service was great too!! Having afternoon tea or latte at Cafe Bacio was something I did too much!! I sure had a lot of charges for the Cafe Bacio on our final bill!!! Don't forget to visit these two fantastic venue's on deck 5!!! There are minor charges for lunch on 5 at the Bistro, but very worth it!! I have Celiac's disease and they even offered a gluten free crepe!! SPECIAL DIETERS: I have celiac disease, so I am gluten free. I have had some not so great experiences on misc ships, but on the Solstice I only had one bad experience! I was very happy with my choices and the taste of all my gluten free meals!!! Thank you Celebrity!!! SHOPS ON THE SHIP: I feel the shops need a make-over!! It was hard to find anything to bring home for friends or for grandchildren!! The choices were NOT what I like to see on a ship! I feel a $20,000 watch or a $50,000 ring is NOT what most cruisers are looking for!!! THE CASINO: I was one of the lucky ones, but I didn't see a lot of winning machines, but maybe I was just there when most of the machines were cold! We did a "SLOT PULL" (THANKS, GEORGE!), and this machine, chosen by the staff of the casino, was so cold it was almost frozen!!! THE SERVICE: I found the service on this ship to be top notch!!!!! We were both greeted with kindness at every step!! I thought the service on this ship was the best I have experienced in many years!! Our room attendants were wonderful (THANK ILYIA, MEREAH AND JACK!!), and every person I encountered (except for one guy who worked in the ice cream area on 14)went above what was expected from them at all times! I could not be more happy with the way we were treated on this ship!!! What I feel I need to apologize for some of the passengers!! Some of them were very rude to the staff of Celebrity!!! I can't believe why some of them felt it was OK to yell or scold a server or any worker!!! They are there to give us all a wonderful vacation, and they do not make enough to be treated like dogs as some of you treated them!! The lady I saw TWICE yelling at a worker up on 14, needs to take a break and treat people like human beings!!! I feel sorry for anyone who came across your rude and disgusting mannerisms!!! I hope you know who you are.... and CHANGE NOW!!!!! HOTEL IN BARCELONA PRE-CRUISE: We stayed at Hotel Inglaterra. This hotel was perfect in every way! We just loved it and would stay there again if we are so lucky to begin another cruise in Barcelona! Barcelona is one of our very favorite ports and hope to visit this wonderful town again one day!!!!!!!! EMBARKATION: You will probably read many negative accounts about this because it was a bit of a problem to get on this ship. BUT, for us, we think Celebrity did a great job considering the problem with Noro Virus on the cruise before ours. Celebrity had to delay boarding almost 3 hours because they had to completely disinfect the entire ship before we were to board. Celebrity offered all of us drinks, chips, protein bars etc., and I THINK DID A GREAT JOB getting us on this ship!! The delay was to try and keep the Noro Virus at bay, and was for all of our safety!! I personally thank them for handling it so well!! We were excited to get on the ship, do we arrived early, and found out we had about 3 hours to wait! So we just wandered around and munched on goodies and waited our turn. When our turn was announced, off we went, and when we finally got into our room there was all of our luggage too!! We just ate lunch with a few fellow CC'ers at the Bistro on 5, and our lunch was fantastic!! Before you knew it, it was announced and our room was ready! I thought the embarkation was done very well!! DEBARKATION: Now this is where I will NOT give Celebrity a good mark!! They could have handled this much better!! This was a disaster!!! For all of you who were cutting in line and running over our toes with your overloaded suitcases, and you know who you are, you needed to take a chill pill!! We were all trying to get to the airports, and your rudeness and pushiness did not help ANY of us or the situation!!! Celebrity, you need to set up a better way to disembark!!!! I give Celebrity a 1 out of 10 when it comes to debarkation!!! CRUISE CRITIC: We just love Cruise Critic!! What a great way to meet people BEFORE the cruise begins, and a great way to make friends!! We had a very active thread, and we met many wonderful and exciting new friends!! Thanks to Bart and Bobby, George and MaryBeth for all your hard work! We enjoyed the daily countdowns too! We hope to meet up with some of you again one day! All in all we had a great time, and realize not everything was perfect, but we like to see the good and enjoy what we can! We LOVE to cruise, and feel the Solstice is one beautiful ship and its crew is beautiful as well!! You can tell on this ship, it starts at the top! The captain and his crew did a great job!!! We loved the S1 cabin and hope to have it again, just on decks 6-11 and NOT on deck 12!! The Cruise Critic friends we made were fun and interesting and a TA is perfect for us! I realize it is not perfect for all of us cruisers, but with 6 days at sea, my husband could not be bothered with his job, and he could really rest, and that is one reason why we go on a cruise!! The ports were great, but we wish there was at least one more! Maybe, next time!! We look forward to another cruise next year and we hope to meet up with some of you again!! Dave and Mardi Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Embarkation - interminable and made to wait on quayside huts with minimal refreshments due to deep cleaning procedures because of norovirus. Cabins - very nice and relatively spacious Dining room. As single lady travellers we wanted ... Read More
Embarkation - interminable and made to wait on quayside huts with minimal refreshments due to deep cleaning procedures because of norovirus. Cabins - very nice and relatively spacious Dining room. As single lady travellers we wanted to sit with other single travellers but this took 3 nights to get the matre d' to get organised. We were then put with a table of mainly gay men who were busy flirting with each other. My friend told me princess had organised this whole area via a pre cruise questionnaire about seating preferences. How simple this would have been! We then requested that we sit on our own as there are absolutely no arrangements for single travellers. When we asked what single get togethers were organised, the guest relations referred us to a sign that said singles met in a particular bar every evening. I can confirm there were no single travellers in that bar, and as Celebrity did not provide a host for introductions, not much chance of meeting them even if they were there! Oh and there was also a sign about bridge playing too, but we learned that that's all celebrity do, i.e. put up a sign and then say they cater for certain groups when they patently do not! Food: average and below average. The Tuscan restaurant had a lovely setting but very poor food. Steak was over seasoned and so salty that it burned my mouth. Crème brulee was unsubtly over sweet and I left both courses unfinished. The dining room food was OK when we were seated on our own but the food was dried out and lukewarm when we sat with a group. The lunchtime buffet varied from average to poor and food was repeated ad nauseum. Entertainment: Variety show was good and cirque Du soleil group, but they only appeared once. The magician, comedian and singer were very poor. Bridge. As this was a transatlantic cruise with 6 plus days at sea, we expected some arrangements for bridge playing. But approx 100 irate bridge players could not fit into a tiny dark cramped "card room". After many complaints we were firstly given a too small room with inadequate tables and then eventually one of our number suggested an underused restaurant with enough seating and the correctly shaped tables. However there was no bridge director on board, due apparently to a "corporate decision" so two lady bridge players volunteered to run a duplicate tournament in the afternoons. We were lucky to have them! Well done Celebrity, for making sure none of these 100 bridge enthusiasts will ever go on your transatlantic voyage again. Poor staff. The guest relations staff were unhelpful and gave us confusing information. we approached them to enquire about disembarkation vouchers to take us from the port to Miami airport. The girl looked at our details on the computer and said no arrangements made and we needed vouchers. We had no vouchers. We booked a package from Celebrity via Iglu travel agents and understood everything was included. We would have to phone Iglu in London she said to find out what was going on. When I demurred at the cost of such a call, she said we could have a complimentary phone call. This call took about an hour of our time to make, (due to the fact that the staff had not a clue how to make international calls), only for Iglu to tell us everything was indeed included. We went back to Guest Relations where the same girl magically found our details and concurred everything was included. We complained to the manager, Christian, who was appalled that we had been asked to call London ourselves and asked if he could give us a bottle of wine to make up for our trouble. Well no, we would like a meal in the speciality restaurant please. I'm sorry he says, they are all full. Actually when we phoned we could have any time we wanted said the matre d'. The next day the manager phones us back to say he can't get to the bottom of what actually happened and the girl involved was denying any part in the fiasco. He said he was crediting the cost of the travel vouchers, all $14.50 each to our bill and that was the end of the matter as far as he was concerned. (We had already confirmed that they were included anyway hadn't we????) After all this, when we got to the bus, we were not on the list for the airport, and still had no vouchers, but luckily the driver let us on anyway because we were obviously a bit distressed by the thought of missing our plane back to the UK. This is all so different from the seamless well organised transfers we have experienced on Azamara and Princess. All in all very poor, both from staff and management. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Where do I begin to say that I think Celebrity just likes to squirt people with santizer. Once I arrived to Barcelona and was handed a letter stating about the gastrointestinal virus that lingered on the previous cruise, I said to myself, ... Read More
Where do I begin to say that I think Celebrity just likes to squirt people with santizer. Once I arrived to Barcelona and was handed a letter stating about the gastrointestinal virus that lingered on the previous cruise, I said to myself, this is going to be interesting... Embarkation: There were in the process of disinfecting the ship. I got on the shipo @ 3:30PM after waiting in the crowded terminal for almost 3 hours. Were were supposed to set ssail at 5:00 and we left port at 6:30...We were told to go to the oceanview cafe which is the buffet area for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The place was packed. It was was too small to accomodate 2800 people at once. I was frustrated getting a seat for 1. Luckily I met a nice employee named Gladys and she found me a seat. Lugging my carry-on bags. I managed to eat whatever I was able to carry with me. No trays, just plates to carry to your table. Already I was not liking this... Cabin: I was on the Deck 7 and my cabin was the total opposite I was experiencing just 7 floors up. Cabin was great. After the hassle of lunch, I was relieved to be in my own sanctuary with balcony included. I relaxed a bit then explored the ship. Ship: The Solstice was built in 2008, now, that doesn't seem old to you but in ship talk it can be. Some of the areas and furniture were run down. Needing a little sprucing up. Overall the layout was nice. Nice touches like the Martini Bar (my favorite place throughout the cruise) and the Bistro on Five. Days At Sea: OK, sometimes when you are on a cruise and you don't want to sleep at midnight and maybe just hang out somewhere until the wee hours? Not on this ship. Shops close at 11PM, Martini Bar closes at 12AM :-(. Pizza and late night snacks, 1AM. The ship seemed like a ghost town when it got to 11PM. I was waiting for a tumbleweed to roll by. This ship didn't even have a piano bar, which would be a great idea. The ports of call were great. No complaints there. People: Luckily I found a great group of people around my age that made my cruise a whole lot better. We would congregate to where else? At The Martini Bar! The majority of the passengers there were 60-70 and beyond. Enough said... Overall: I had a great time with my new friends that I made on this cruise and we are all keeping in touch to see maybe we will meet again on another cruise. Service was outstanding, as was my cabin with balcony included. As for the virus, with sooooo much sanitizing in and out of all areas, I heard over 40 people got sick including one of my dinner table mates. She is all better now, hoping she won't get squirted with any more sanitizer... I might just buy some shares in the Purell company... Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
First, let me explain that we are a retired couple living in south Florida and that this was our 71st cruise. Last year our first Transatlantic was the Celebrity Equinox eastbound to Rome in April 2010 and we loved it so much that we ... Read More
First, let me explain that we are a retired couple living in south Florida and that this was our 71st cruise. Last year our first Transatlantic was the Celebrity Equinox eastbound to Rome in April 2010 and we loved it so much that we decided to try in again, this time on the Celebrity Solstice to Barcelona. We couldn't have had a better time on each cruise! We found the service, food, entertainment, ports and Beyond the Podium speakers on the Sostice to be excellent. We have sailed on each of the 3 ships (Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse) in this class and find the ships to be elegant. The design is simple, the look is upscale and yet is extremely functional and well thought out. We particularly like that the casinos on this class are always smoke free. The entertainment was first rate each night with one exception...the magician, who really was not at the same skill level as each of the other acts. The last of the 3 production shows "Solstice" was especially wonderful with the acrobatics interplaying with the singing and dancing. We were really surprised and impressed to see the Captain singing and playing the guitar on 2 occasions. He also participated in a cooking competition with the Cruise Director and was often seen around with ship talking with the voyagers. All of this really added to the wonderful experience of this journey. We were also fascinated by the at-sea day talks given by Nigel West on syping and counterintelligence. His breadth of knowledge and skill in presenting each talk without notes or visuals and yet capturing the audience was truly impressive. We enjoyed this cruise so much and we're now booked on the Celebrity Ecplise westbound Transatlantic this October. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My traveling companion and I are university professors looking for a relaxing, yet stimulating way to recover from a hectic and stressful academic year. We had cruised together several times before on the Solstice, and the Holland America ... Read More
My traveling companion and I are university professors looking for a relaxing, yet stimulating way to recover from a hectic and stressful academic year. We had cruised together several times before on the Solstice, and the Holland America and Princess lines. We've traveled to the Caribbean and the Baltic and I have cruised Alaska. We have been interested in the Mediterranean but we also wanted the experience of numerous lazy days at sea. The Celebrity Solstice's 13 day voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona with port days in the Azores, Lisbon, Cadiz and Malaga was a perfect blend of both. We rented a car and drove to Fort Lauderdale from our homes in Jacksonville the day before the sailing. Spent the night nearby and dropped the car off in mid-morning and took cab to the ship. Check-in was rapid and easy and in a very short time were were on deck with our champagne. This was our second time on the Solstice, so it was like coming home. We wandered about, had something to eat and checked out our stateroom. Here is where we encountered a huge disappointment. We had chosen 1551 on the Penthouse Deck in the Aqua Class area on the port side. We wanted the same cabin, 1533, that we enjoyed last summer in the Western Caribbean, but it was unavailable when I booked. Looking at the deck plan, I thought 1551 would be fine. Little did I know that the view from our veranda was partially blocked by a large structure that is used for cleaning boat, or so I was told. Also there is a wide overhang from the deck above that renders the cabin in this section dark. We didn't really like the cabin, but figured we would make the best of it. After talking about it for awhile, we decided I would call guest relations to see if anything could be done about it. I was politely told that the cruise was fully booked and nothing comparable was available for us, but to check back once the ship sailed to see if anyone failed to board. We thought the chance of us getting to move was not likely, so we decided to put it out of our minds and headed for one our favorite spots, the Martini Bar. There we reunited with some of our favorite bartenders from last summer's cruise and started meeting fellow shipmates. The Martini Bar is the perfect place to people watch. In no time, we were caught up with the excitement of leaving on a transatlantic voyage. Off we went to the lifeboat drill. In an elevator, we happened to strike up with an officer of the ship who was job was to be an international host. We asked what that entailed and he told us it involved public relations. Since I teach public relations courses, we chatted about that a bit. He asked us how everything was so far, we said it was wonderful and we were excited, but the cabin in Aqua was a disappointment. We briefly told him about our problem. He said he would look into it and then we parted. After the ship sailed, we made our way to the guest relations desk that was packed with people who had issues. We waited our turn, but overheard people upset about this or that or with questions. There was a sign that said no upgrades were available. We were in good spirits, so we greeted the representative with a smile and repeated our story that we initially told a representative when we called earlier. Much to our surprise one of the other representatives overheard us and said she was working on something. She asked us to wait to the side. In just a few moments she came up with a couple of alternatives. One was to move us to another cabin on the Penthouse Deck, but that fell through when it was learned that the guests missed the ship and would be meeting it in the Azores. The other was to give us a veranda cabin on the Panorama Deck with all of the Aqua Class amenities (except the spa shower) included. She showed us the cabin; the view was unobstructed and we agreed. In minutes our bags were brought to us plus the champagne, the foot stools from the deck the flowers and the bath amenities. We were impressed how eager the staff was to make us happy. I am not sure if the serendipitous meeting with the international host or the fact we were on our second cruise with Celebrity had anything to do with it, but we were surprised we were accommodated so quickly and pleasantly. Now I know how the ship is designed and will do more research on this site to find our which cabins to avoid. The rest of the cruise was exactly what we hoped: relaxing yet stimulating. We made use of the Celebrity Life programs, taking painting and computer courses. The level of instruction from the painting teacher and the computer instructor was excellent. We loved the ports. The excursions in the Azores, Portugal and to Seville and Granada were well organized and informative. We saw a good amount of Spain and Portugal and the guides were top-notched. A back up do to a labor demonstration at the port in Malaga, put some cruisers in a foul mood. Bus tours from several ships all seemed to arrive at once and created a huge line of passengers at port security. People were grumbling and some even tried to cut in line. A few people were a bit hostile to line jumpers. We took it all in stride and after less than an hour were were on ship. It wasn't a big deal to us. It is always amazing to me how much some people who are supposed to be on vacation complain. I am sure they create a challenge for the staff, who seem very well trained to deal with troublesome guests. We certainly don't think of ourselves as troublesome guests, but we did have one issue that marred the experience a bit. The maitre d of Murano lost his temper with us one evening over a rather minor situation. It was very out of character with the restaurant. We were going to let it go, until some of the people we met on the ship told us that someone in authority needed to know what happened. I was going to put it on the comment card, but decided to tell guest services directly because it was a rather involved story. The guest services representative said I should tell the ship's restaurant manager. I was reluctant because I didn't want it to be blown out of proportion. It was the end of the evening when the event occurred and perhaps the maitre d d was just having a bad day. She insisted and set up a meeting and I told my story. He listened attentively and said the maitre d was incorrect to lose his temper. He thanked me for my comments and said the employee would need additional coaching. I still felt bad for complaining. The entire experience on the ship was so wonderful, I didn't want this one issue to take greater precedent than it deserved. Overall, I was very impressed how the issue was treated. I believe the Celebrity Solstice staff does what it can to make the shipboard experience has pleasant and memorable as humanly possible. It was nearing 9 Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was one of our favorite cruises! The May transatlantic was very relaxing, intellectually stimulating and entertaining. Seas were mostly smooth, perhaps one day of moderate rolling. The crew was outstanding in all aspects, from the ... Read More
This was one of our favorite cruises! The May transatlantic was very relaxing, intellectually stimulating and entertaining. Seas were mostly smooth, perhaps one day of moderate rolling. The crew was outstanding in all aspects, from the Guest Relations Desk, especially Galyna and Marie, the Documentation Officer to the wait staff in Blu. I don't think we have encountered a better staff at sea. Aquaclass and Stateroom 1640: We were on the starboard side and received morning sun. However, I think next time I might book Port side to get the sunset instead. We had a large overhang so had to go out on deck if we wanted any sun during the day. Our stateroom attendant Clifton from Goa did a fine job and really made an effort to keep us happy. We had some problems with the pillows and he found some that were more acceptable. He even brought the cheese plate without requesting it which was appreciated. Loved the shower with the jets. I also liked the ice tea that was brought everyday. This was the first time we had the bed by the balcony. Prior to that we always had the bed near the bath. I like both configurations but with the bed by the balcony you can see the ocean without having to get out of bed. Blu: The food was very good. The best part for us was the smaller, elegant dining room. The wait staff was excellent but made recommendations that I was not sure if they told to make or they actually liked those specific dishes. Probably the former. The vegetable dishes and risotto were yummy. I also had a great duck salad. Some of the misses were the crispy beef tartar (nothing crispy about the beef and it looked like catfood) and the salty sea bass. However, if you don't like something it is very easy to order another dish. The head maitre'd, Czyna (sp?) and Stan the assistant could not have been more professional and personable. They knew we liked sitting next to the window and most of the time made an effort to seat us at table there. We only had breakfast at Blu once and it was good but we liked the Oceanview for more variety. Entertainment: It was surprisingly very good on this cruise. Nicola Loud, Paul Baker and Diane Cousins were all terrific performers. The Captain even did an impromptu surprise performance one night before we reached the Azores. He has a great voice and also can cook as he participated in the cooking challenge. The speaker series was well done. Nigel West was a delight to listen to on espionage and counter intelligence. His sessions were packed and it was always great to see him sashay on stage in his white trousers and navy jacket. He was also an excellent speaker and is a wealth of information. Wifi: The Internet worked very well on both our Ipod Touch and Ipad. However, the Ipad had a looping problem that needed to be resolved to get the Internet to work correctly. The Internet speed was very fast and probably the best of any cruise I have taken. We took advantage of the Captains Club discount and probably used more minutes than I would normally because of all the sea days. Fitness Center: This was our second Solstice cruise but I used the gym much more on this cruise. In the morning most of the treadmills were taken. I brought my own headphones and liked using the personal TV to get me thru my workout. I think this is one of my favorite gyms at sea. Spa: I had 3 treatments and also used the thermal loungers in the Persian Garden. Stacie who did the facials was very good. I also had a leg treatment that was ok but would not do it again. I booked one treatment in advance online but it was apparent they had a lot of openings so it was not necessary. I thought on a Transatlantic the spa would be busier. Ports: We did the 4X4 Drive Safari in Ponta Delgada, Azores. It was a lot of fun. We had great weather. Sun and some clouds and could appreciate the beauty of the island. We went to Sete Ciudades and saw the two lakes. We also stopped in town and got to walk around for 20 minutes or so. Then we took some back roads and went up very high and could see for miles. It was a shear drop on one side so quite the adventure! Had a nice lunch at Talisman Hotel. Walked back to port and around the Sol del Mar shopping center. Lots of stores open even on a Sunday. Next stop was Lisbon and as we had not been here before did a city tour on our own. Took a taxi to Liberdade for shopping. Saw the San Justa elevator and then walked to Rua de Carmo for a few other shops. Bought a few things at the Muji store and then had delicious gelato at Santini. Took a taxi to Jeronimos Monastery which was very beautiful and easy to walk around. We then made our way to the Discoveries Monument and the Torre del Belem. Managed to get a taxi at Torre Belem with a pit stop at the Antiga Confecteria for the tarts. Worth the stop. Cadiz: We had been to Malaga and Barcelona before so decided in advance to disembark the ship in Cadiz and spent 2 nights in Seville. The disembarkation was delayed as they needed some extra time docking. They finished docking around 12:30 pm and we proceeded off the ship and took a quick taxi ride to the train station. It was 1 hr 45 min to Seville but the trains are slower and adequate. It was a 20 minute taxi ride Hotel Casa 1800. Went that afternoon to the Alcazar and I was so glad we did! It was cooler in the later afternoon and also not crowded. The Alcazar was amazing. I think I was more impressed with it than the Alhambra in Granada. We spent the rest of our time shopping and eating. The Robles restaurants were excellent. Palma de Mallorca: Although this port was not on the ship's itinerary, thought I would mention that we enjoyed our time (3 nights) here. We flew Air Berlin from Seville to Palma. A short and pleasant flight. Palma is large but we also made our way out to Soller and Porto Portals. Absolutely loved the entire cruise and look forward to future Celebrity cruises. The combination of a beautiful ship, fantastic staff, excellent food, interesting lectures and good ports made this one of our favorite cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We took a May transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale ending up in Barcelona with a relaxing 6 straight days at sea. The passengers were mostly experienced 50+ couples with few children or younger people. Most of the passengers I spoke ... Read More
We took a May transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale ending up in Barcelona with a relaxing 6 straight days at sea. The passengers were mostly experienced 50+ couples with few children or younger people. Most of the passengers I spoke with were staying in Europe at least for a few days after the cruise. The cost of a transatlantic cruise compares favorably with business class airfare and approaches coach fares.The ship is beautiful and the cabins very nice especially the enclosed showers. There are apparently lounge chairs for many thousands on the outdoor decks so there was never a problem finding an empty one. The abilities and attitude of the service staff was the best I've experienced in over 10 other cruises.Food was pretty good in the main dining room with exceptionally good service. I'm in the habit of tipping my cabin and dining room servers as I go along, I find it can't hurt. The lunch area has individual service islands which improve traffic flow greatly in my opinion. There was always a large choice of items from salads, pizza and pasta (available almost anytime) to sandwiches, carved meats, Indian, Mexican, hot dishes, etc. The fanciest dining option the Murano was very good, the Tuscan grill average and the Asian Silk Road poor.The on board entertainment was typical although the jazz trio was great. Port stops and tours were also typical.Embarkation at Fort Lauderdale was very quick. Barcelona port was a zoo apparently because 4 large ships arrived at the same time. I would advise pre-booking a port pickup if you are arriving in Barcelona.The bottom line is I enjoyed the cruise so much I booked the October return journey. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We flew to FLL and stayed at Motel8 near the airport. Not a luxury hotel, mind you, but clean, cheap and they had a shuttle from the airport and to the dock. Also they were within walking distance to a liquor store, which is important to ... Read More
We flew to FLL and stayed at Motel8 near the airport. Not a luxury hotel, mind you, but clean, cheap and they had a shuttle from the airport and to the dock. Also they were within walking distance to a liquor store, which is important to those who know why! Very convenient.Check in next morning was a breeze. We were in cabin 6248 (obstructed balcony) and found that the obstruction was just a life boat underneath the railing. It only obstructed the view straight down, not the view of the ocean.The cabin was very nice and well equipped. The only annoyance was the closet which was very poorly designed. Sliding doors which didn't slide very well, and hinges that cut off your fingers if you didn't pay attention.Other than that, this was the most beautiful ship we've been on. The dEcor is modern, and we never felt crowded. The food was good, and the wine list extensive - with many wines in the $25 to 35 range. Service was flawless. The breakfast and lunch offerings at the buffet were extensive, but dinner at the buffet was rather limited. We did not use the specialty restaurants because we were unable to secure a reservation at a time suitable to us.Entertainment was of typical cruise ship quality, and the lectures offered were very interesting.If there is any room for improvement, it's in the IT area. Internet access is more cumbersome and fragile than on other ships. And since we're talking IT, how about fixing your web site, Celebrity, so I don't have to enter all my personals every time I log on. Also, why do you still mail luggage stickers when most other lines let you print them at home? Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Fl ti Miami and stayed in Springhill Suites near Miami airport. Less expensive than flying into Ft Lauderdaleand. We used Joshua Limo to take us to the port the next day. We have used them before and they a great. With three in a limo ... Read More
Fl ti Miami and stayed in Springhill Suites near Miami airport. Less expensive than flying into Ft Lauderdaleand. We used Joshua Limo to take us to the port the next day. We have used them before and they a great. With three in a limo it's less than a taxi, more comfortable and makes a nice start to the irip.Boarding the ship couldn't have been easier. Celebrity has this perfected. He little touches like a glass of champagne or OJ just let's you know that this will be a great cruise.We specifically chose the sailing to Barcelona because my niece wanted to see Lisbon, Portugal as well as Spain and this was her first trip to Europe. We also loved Aquaclass and wanted to sail in Aquaclass again.The room was ready for us and our bags arrived quickly. We were unpacked and settled before we knew it. The buffet was a pleasant place for lunch and everyone did whatever they could to make the boarding and cruise special. Our cabin steward was efficient and helpful and the Aquaclass concierge ma every effort to help with what ever we wanted.The crossing went faster than we expected and we quickly fell into a routine of going to the gym and spa, eating, enjoying the shows and the casino. The gym was overcrowded at the beginning of the cruise but as the cruise progressed people lost interest and there were sufficient machines available. Some people complained that passengers did not adhere to the 20 minute limit but I had no problems. There wasn't a lot of help or supervision to help those new to the machines so novices were on their own. I think that could be improved.Dinners at Blu, the Aquaclass restaurant were usually quite good. My objection might be that there was too much pork on the menu, but I always found an alternative. We dined at Tuscan one night and the food was excellent albeit too much. Our experience in Silk Harvest was not as satisfactory. While the sushi course was good, the main courses were poor examples of Asian cuisine. I suggest that if they cannot improve it, they should change it into something else, like a nice tapas bar. We did not try Murano but everyone who did gave it rave reviews. The buffet and deck restaurants provided nice alternative food choices that were quite tasty.Shore excursions: It took Celebrity a long time to get shore excursions posted to their website. Quick aside, I think the Princess website is far better than Celbrity's. We opted to use Celebrity for the Azores and that excursion to Furnas Valley was very nice. We used Spain Day Tours/Top Day Tours for tours from Cadiz to Seville and Malage to Granada and Greyline Tours for Lisbonand Sintra(Penya Palace). We were very satisfied wi what we saw on all the tours but enjoyed the smaller group aspect of the other tours. We also heard that the Celebrity Lisbon tour concentrated on shopping and we are glad we missed that. Our tour guides were knowledgeable and answered all our questions. If I have one complaint, it was that we ren't told that there are extra admission charges on the Cadiz to Seville tour. However, I would use them again.Entertainment was a mixed review. The a capella group was fantastic. A few of the entertainers were as well. The real surprise was that our captain appeared in two of the shows and has a great singi voice! I also want to say that our captain was the best of any on any of the cruises we have taken. He was out and around the ship, talking with passengers, at the shows, and even in the water volleyball game between crew and pasasengers. He really added a excellent human face to the cruise line and that attitude was evident with all the other senior officers as well. Congratulations, Celebrity! Job well donePonta Delgada: Very tidy, enjoyable port with nice buildings and a good place to radar back into land after 6 days at sea Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Just finished a wonderful 13 day Transatlantic crossing on Celebrity Solstice (departed Fort Lauderdale May 1, 2011 arrived Barcelona, Spain on May 14, 2011).I was in cabin 7276, starboard side unobstructed, non-Concierge class balcony ... Read More
Just finished a wonderful 13 day Transatlantic crossing on Celebrity Solstice (departed Fort Lauderdale May 1, 2011 arrived Barcelona, Spain on May 14, 2011).I was in cabin 7276, starboard side unobstructed, non-Concierge class balcony classified as category 2A. This was a great cabin. Being midships right over the stabilizers meant I experienced much less ship motion than my friends in cabins at the bow of the ship, high up (deck 12) in Aqua Class, or in Sky Suites at the very stern of the ship. The crossing itself was not rocky at all. In fact on several days the ocean looked like a lake with an almost glassy smooth surface. But we did have some days with typical deep ocean swells and I slept very well unlike people in some cabins on higher decks or at either end of the ship. Sometimes you can feel the stabilizers push the ship against the swell, and it is a rather re-assuring feeling.Cabin 7276 sleeps 5 people: two twin beds (which I had made up into one big bed), then one bed that can drop from the ceiling, then the couch, then the trundle bed under the couch. It can be joined with cabin 7274 for a family configuration of adjoining rooms with a common door to the hallway.This cabin is right at the middle of the giant X seen on the side of the ship. Some people call this the "bump" section of the ship. The Bump really consists of 2 cabins with angled larger balconies, then 10 cabins all in a row, then another 2 cabins with angled larger balconies. The lifeboats end/begin after the cabins with angled balconies. Cabin 7276 is almost right in the middle of the row of 10 cabins and has a flat fronted balcony with a clear view over the promenade on Deck 5 below, and looks directly out to sea. Cabins on the Solstice alternate in configuration of the bed being either closer to the balcony or the restroom. The beds in Cabin 7276 are closer to the bathroom with the desk area right next to the balcony door.Although close to the elevators which ride through a giant chimney that channels sound up the atrium to all decks, there is a wall between the elevator lobby and the hallway to this cabin and thus 7276 is a really quiet cabin. Because the Team Earth "living room" is right on this floor it is a great place for friends and family to meet/gather on port days before leaving the ship together. The proximity to the aft stairs means that it is very easy to get to the Oceanview Cafe on Deck 14 (there is no deck 13 on this ship). There is ample storage - but not alot of hanging space in this cabin. The bathroom is large with lots of shelves and drawers for storage. The shower is very nice and big enough for two people at once. You can also use the cupboards above the bed as well as the storage space above the mini fridge to store items.I have traveled Concierge class before but I did not miss those amenities in this cabin at all. As far as I could tell, the square footage between the cabins in Aqua class, Concierge class and A1 were exactly the same. Aqua class rooms, however, had two shower heads (one from above, one from below) that was sorta cool. I got to eat in Blu a couple of times. The reviews on it were mixed. People who tended to want a more insular experience liked Blu. Others who liked to mix more did not like it as much. The food was not noticably better.Overall, the Solstice was fantastic. You'll love it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We booked this cruise far in advance...almost 18 months ahead, I spent a great deal of time obsessively researching the ports, what to see, do, etc. DH spent a great deal of time worrying about the $ a time off of work (we own our own ... Read More
We booked this cruise far in advance...almost 18 months ahead, I spent a great deal of time obsessively researching the ports, what to see, do, etc. DH spent a great deal of time worrying about the $ a time off of work (we own our own business) We flew into Rome 3 days before cruise, left LAX on Thanksgiving flew ANZ premium Economy, upper deck into LHR thanks for heads up from Cruise Critic people! Flew BA business class into Rome, delayed by baggage strike by several hours, 1 missing bag (delivered bright & early to hotel next morning) Figured you haven't experienced Italy till you've traveled during a strike... Embarkation: We traveled by train (took the express) to the port, did you know that you can buy a first class ticket without actually being assigned a first class seat? Lovely views of the Italian countryside & lots of fresh air in the vestibule which is where we stood all the way to Civ. (plenty of room for our bags though) we walked to the the ship's shuttle (about 5 minutes) within 10 minutes the shuttle took off, & we were on our way. Very fast easy boarding procedure, we were on the ship by 12 & sipping our cold champagne, we dropped off our carry on bags at our room which was not yet ready, so we put them on the balcony to keep them out of the way of the steward & headed to find a bar. Ship Impression: It's gorgeous, almost never felt crowded, plenty of choices for food, & a bar around every corner. Pools: spent a great deal of time on the 6 crossing days lying in the shade, reading my kindle & drinking beer. Pool areas are beautiful & peaceful, never had a problem finding a nice place to sit. Spa: Had 3 massages, did the pkg. deal, wonderful service, no pushing of the products, I really appreciated that. Food: we had a table for 2 on the main floor with a great view of the staircase & wine refrig. I'll be honest, the food on the right side of the menu was nothing to write home about, not bad, but not good either, we learned to stick with the classic menu, or we used alternative dining. The service was excellent, the MDR beautiful. We ate in the buffet for most of the first half of the cruise due to late ports, nice selection, enjoyed not having to change for dinner. We ate in the Bistro at least 5 times, mainly for the quiet atmosphere & A1 service, I cannot rave enough about our server, she was wonderful, attentive without hovering, & had a great sense of humour. We ate at the Tuscan Grill, & Murano, preferred the Tuscan Grill, the view of the wake was incomparable, (Murano has no view & Tuscan is more casual) Cabin: we had a C2 on the hump, very nice over sized balcony, steward was ok,(he may have been overworked) the assistant steward was FANTASTIC Bathroom very nice, no nasty shower curtain, room bed comfortable, not enough drawer space. Entertainment: first half of cruise we were in bed by 10 & up at 5:30 for ports, second half we went to 1 comedy show (crickets chirping) & the talent show (woman from our roll call was a terrific singer) Best entertainment for us was sitting in the bars, lounges & watching the dancers, having no skills myself, it was inspiring. Favorite moments: the Captains noon announcements, & sitting in the sunset bar as we sailed away from Funchal, knowing we were headed for 6 days of relaxation on the open sea. Such a happy, festive feeling! Overall, we loved this cruise, hit a bit of rough seas, which I actually enjoy, were diverted from livorno to La Spezia instead, (what an adventure getting to Florence) to anyone who is always thinking next year, someday, I say go for it & make it happen, life is too short to miss out on exploring the world. We already booked another one for fall 2011 (yes we like to plan ahead; as well as save up the $) I will review ports separately. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
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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