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25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
After researching cruise lines my husband and I chose to go with Celebrity as it sounded perfect for a couple in mid forties to enjoy good food and service without a heap of kids running riot around the place. And the free drinks package ... Read More
After researching cruise lines my husband and I chose to go with Celebrity as it sounded perfect for a couple in mid forties to enjoy good food and service without a heap of kids running riot around the place. And the free drinks package sounded good too. Embarkation was a smooth process - arrived at about 10am and went straight through with no line ups. Disembarkation was just as smooth. We took our own luggage off and were expected to vacate the cabin at 6.45am and were hopping in an uber at 7.15. Everything was explained really well and everything was so organised. The ship is beautiful - only 8 years old and well maintained. Very easy to navigate - just had to remember food at the back, entertainment at the front and money in the middle. Very light and airy with lots of places to sit to get away from everything. Didn't often feel crowded except at the sales. In peak times it was difficult to get a table anywhere. We dined outside of the peak times so didn't have any problems. Was so nice sitting at the back of the oceanview having a leisurely breakfast while watching the view. Our cabin was on the 7th floor midship which was a perfect location- close to everything but so quiet and little movement. The new alcoves didn't seem to get used much although the weather wasn't the greatest the whole time. But at $249US on a sea day, I wouldn't be paying it. I did see some people get kicked out them as they hadn't paid for them. Loved the food. Surprisingly we spent most time at the buffet which is saying something as my hubby doesn't normally do buffets. Good quality, lots of variety and everything was spaced out so no line ups. A lot of the food was made to order too - eggs, steak and even stirfries. Our first time in the main dining room put us off going for a bit. We went for breakfast where we were squashed in like sardines in one area. I thought the bacon and eggs was actually better in the buffet. We had a couple of dinners at the MDR later and the seating was better and food was good too. Still felt pressure to eat quick and go so they could give the table to someone else though. There were 2 evening chic nights. Was really lovely seeing everyone dressed up although there were some that didn't make an effort and I even saw thongs (flip flops) in the MDR. We had some onboard credit to use so went to Silk Harvest and Tuscan Grille and we loved both of them. Had more relaxed evenings there. Silk Harvest was the favourite. Loved the burgers at the Mast Grill for a quick meal. Don't waste your money on the gelato - mine was tasteless and the waffle cone disintegrated in my hand. The free ice cream in the buffet is a lot nicer and the flavours change daily. One thing I noticed missing is savoury snacks - no potato chips or nuts to have with a drink so bring your own. I did notice pringles in the shop but after seeing a 200gm block of chocolate for $17US, I didn't look any further. The service was amazing. Staff were everywhere and they all acknowledged you as you walked past. There was always someone there to pick up after you or to offer you a drink as soon as you sat down - even in the buffet. The room steward tidied the cabin twice a day. No towel animals but there was a chocolate on the pillow at night. The highlight was reading the Daily that he left at night to work out what to do the next day. We are still none the wiser on whats included in the drinks packages. I think Celebrity are deliberately vague on advising what is included in each package in the hope you will upgrade just to be sure you'll be able to get your drink. I don't think the bartenders even know what's in each package. Was told Midori was a premium drink but then it was the classic drink of the day! There is a bit of hard sell in the first couple of days from the bartenders to upgrade but then it stops. My hubby and I had no problems getting whatever drink we wanted on the classic package There were lots of activities to do to keep most happy. If there wasn't something on, I was happy to sit on my balcony and read a book or sit at a bar trying all the different cocktails talking to some great bartenders. There were a few money making seminars that were a bit offputting like how to look younger (if you buy our products) etc Apart from that everything was great. Loved the production shows - they had four over 8 nights. If you want a good seat you need to get there half an hour early. The best show was Liar Liar - an R rated show that was on after the production show. Captain Tasos was in it and he and the whole show was hilarious. It involved 3 crew members trying to convince you their definition of a naughty sounding word was correct. Not to be missed. We stopped at Noumea, Lifou and Isle of Pines - Lifou and Isle of Pines both tendered. We did our own tours of Noumea and Isle of Pines. Favourite was Isle of Pines. So pretty and everyone was friendly. Tip, if you stop at Lifou on a Sunday and want to do a tour, do the celebrity organised one. Otherwise there is no guarantee that there will be anyone to drive the tour buses as they all go to church and may or may not come back as in our case! There were only a few people there selling their stuff and they weren't really friendly. I was watching them cook chicken skewers while waiting 2 hours for the no show driver - I wouldn't advise eating them. Hopefully Lifou is better on other days. Another tip - souvenirs are cheaper in Noumea then the other islands. I took South Pacific francs but found everywhere took Australian dollars. Overall a great cruise. As first timers we have nothing to compare it to but everything was great so no complaints. We felt like we were having a holiday with lots of staff to ensure we did. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this ship after reading reviews and after seeing the ship docked in Wellington when in holiday in NZ three years ago. We could have picked up a cruise in Brisbane but we chose to fly down to Sydney as we thought the ship would be ... Read More
We chose this ship after reading reviews and after seeing the ship docked in Wellington when in holiday in NZ three years ago. We could have picked up a cruise in Brisbane but we chose to fly down to Sydney as we thought the ship would be worth a special effort. We have two teenage children and were looking for a cruise that catered primarily for the adults, without ignoring the kids completely. Embarkation was efficient and took about 45 minutes.The ship has been recently been refurbished and looked almost new. Our cabins (or stateroom as they prefer to call them) were clean with everything in working order. Our stateroom attendant, Michael was well liked by us all. He was always asking me if there was something he could do for us. Leaving from Sydney was certainly spectacular and was probably worth the flight down alone. It was school holidays but we were surprised at how many kids were on board. The ship has kids clubs and pools but no other gimmicks such as ice-rinks or climbing walls that other big ships now have. It seems that plenty of other parents thought the same as we did, and the number of kids gave the cruise a younger feel, which we liked. There are plenty of dining options and food served seemingly at all hours. The Oceanview Cafe is a large buffet which a large variety of food options. This was so popular at mealtimes and it was sometimes hard to find a seat, especially at around 2pm on shore days. Despite the wide range of food, constantly replenished, we still heard of people complaining at what they regarded as the lack of choice. You'll find whingers wherever you go. Most nights we had our evening meal at the Main Dining Room. The quality of food was very good and portion sizes here were more sensible than the buffet where you are inclined to load up your plate as everything looks so appetising. Having said that, we never said no to dessert. Service here was friendly and efficient - our serving staff Edward and Eddy were great and the kids just loved them. We had a 6pm sitting and were usually served our three courses by 7.15 - just time for a drink or two before the 9pm show. There were bars all over the ship that each offered their own vibe. We tried them all! Highlights included sipping drinks in the early evening at the Sunset Bar at the blunt end of the ship (stern) while the talented Michael sang and played guitar to us and about ten others - it was like a private show - and the Martini bar which become another favourite after we upgraded our 'Classic' drinks package to 'Premium' halfway through the cruise. One constant grumble we heard from other passengers was the poor attitude of some of the bar staff at certain very busy bars. There was some merit in this, but unlike normal bars where people are primarily ordering beer and wine, on board most people are ordering cocktails which slows down the whole process and put the staff under more pressure. Celebrity try to ease this pressure by having trolleys loaded with beer and wines wheeled around the pool decks during the day - but the poolside and sunset bars remained particularly busy. We thought the quality of live music throughout the ship was excellent. The lighting and sound quality in the theatre was of the highest standard. The ship's band were top notch. Some of the entertainers weren't to everyone's taste, including ours, but we were prepared to sit for 45 minutes and clap someone trying their hardest to entertain, while others were just plain rude and walked out. The singers, dancers and acrobats from the ship's production crew put on four top quality shows - ROCK and BROKEN STRINGS were favourites - and 45 minutes weren't enough (but hey, they were doing two shows a night!) The cruise director Ben was from Australia and his dry sense of humour was appreciated by the predominantly Australian audience. His talk about his time at Australian Zoo with Steve Irwin drew a large crowd in the theatre and was well received. Captain Tasos is a pretty funny man for someone with such great responsibility. He gave a talk on the building of the ship to a packed theatre of over 1000 people and had the audience in stitches. The cheer he received when he entered the pool for the officers versus passengers pool volleyball game was a fair indication of the respect he had quickly gained from his guests. The ship was always being cleaned and handrails were constantly wiped down. Everyone entering a dining area was offered hand sanitiser. I must give a special mention to the cleaners who were constantly stationed in the ship's public toilets. Although they didn't have the highest of positions on the ship, they obviously took pride in their work and they kept their toilets spotless. Was everything perfect - no, but's that's life. Were some staff a bit rude? Yes, but most were friendly and efficient. Some things were overpriced - $250 for a weeks internet seemed pricey but then again, it is a ship in the middle of the ocean! And besides, it meant we saw our daughter's face for the first time in ages - and not just the top of her head as she constantly sends texts and Facebook posts . Maybe as first time cruisers we are a bit naive, but if you go on this ship with a positive attitude and treat the staff with respect and not as your servants, you will have an enjoyable experience - and avoid the whingers! Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise because Celebrity offer a premium experience in a relaxed environment. Our mindset was to have the best holiday, and that is what we had. The crew were amazing led by the wonderful Captain Tasos. The Cruise ... Read More
We chose this cruise because Celebrity offer a premium experience in a relaxed environment. Our mindset was to have the best holiday, and that is what we had. The crew were amazing led by the wonderful Captain Tasos. The Cruise Director, Ben was an absolute professional, and the entertainment was always enjoyable. The standout performance in the Solstice Theatre was by the headline act, Australian Pianist Kym Purling. Also onboard was the wonderful Ray Brown Quartet who played two shows a night in the main lobby and the Ensemble Lounge. We did the behind the scenes tour which commenced on the Bridge with the Staff Captain doing an excellent job of explaining the ship's operations and finished in the Ship's galley after stops at the laundry, engine room, cool room, recycling room, crew dining room and bar, well worth doing. Another highlight was A Taste of Film, outside on the grass deck with a big screen - deck chairs, seven course dinner paired to the movie "A Hundred Foot Journey" and bar service - even the Executive Chef arrived at the end of the movie to check everything was ok. It is so easy to have a good time on this ship, can't wait to be onboard again. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Firstly a bit about us: we are 45 (husband and wife) who loves to travel and cruise, we are not hard to please people, we like the beach, we like to drink a little, we normally cruise as a couple but sometimes we cruise as a family (with 2 ... Read More
Firstly a bit about us: we are 45 (husband and wife) who loves to travel and cruise, we are not hard to please people, we like the beach, we like to drink a little, we normally cruise as a couple but sometimes we cruise as a family (with 2 kids currently 19 and 21) and sometimes with our friends. We live in Australia but we were born in Portugal and Brazil. This was our 7th cruise. We booked this cruise 10 days before departure, it was a last minute decision we booked the last cabin available being an inside cabin (1055 level 10) and we paid AUD$5,900.00 for it. I have heard hat Celebrity was on the same level as Princess Cruises (we cruised with Diamond Princess and we really liked the ship and the service) and a level higher than Royal Caribbean (we did Radiance, Rhapsody and Voyager) so I was expecting a beautiful ship,with great amenities and outstanding service. It was a Christmas, new years and my husband birthday. Because we are Paltinun level on RC (almost emerald) we had the "Select" tier on Celebrity. Upon arrival, around 3pm, we boarded without any delays or queues, as almost everyone were already in the ship. We went direct to our room. The room was a good size, and good set up, the only improvement would be a nice picture frame or a mirror on the wall opposite the door to give some focal point as one opens the door. The shower whithout the curtains was a big relief, and the best bathroom i've had on a cruise. The only thing we found on our room was a print out with some "special events" for the select members. On the day of those events no invitation was sent to the room so its easy to forget and miss those events. My husbands birthday was during our cruise and nothing was said or given, not even a card saying happy birthday, not a cake or no one wine him a happy birthday. Very disappointing. The ship was on its full capacity, and we noticed it on the pools, and during lunch and breakfast. Breakfast closes at 10am and with only 2 hours to serve breakfast for over 3,000 it was a dogs breakfast, queue for bread, queue for eggs, queue for everything. Same history for lunch. The food was not presented in a nice way, it was like they were feeding the army, bland food and not very nice to look at, no decorations. The hours of service should be increased when the ship is full to accommodate and serve everyone in a nice manner. The lunch was supposed to end at 2.30pm but they start removing the trays around 2.10pm and all is removed but the pasta and pizza only after that. We tried the main dinning room for two nights but the food was not special, and we decided to have dinner at the buffet. The seating area isn't big enough to accommodate all guests during meal time. The only time one could use the buffet wihitout having to fight or queue for food was at dinner time when most guests where at the min dining room. The entertainment was a hit and miss, and we did walk out on few show and didn't turned up for others. With only 3 swimming pools, one indoors for the oldies. And 2 outside with the children taking over was not possible to use it at all. One of those outside pools should be for adults only and the other for the kids. There isn't many activities happening and after 11pm the only option is to go to bed, because there isn't anything to do. The ship is okay and being a new ship to should be stunning. The excursions where very overpriced. The Captain was the best thing on the ship, Captain Tesos is a people person and e is always around the ship and happy to have a chat and take photos. I wouldn't cruise with celebrity again based on my experience. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
First of all this was our 8th cruise with 3 cruise lines and we had anticipated it would be the best experience so far. Before we left we had a few alarm bells ringing in regard to noise in the cabin after we read a cruise critic review ... Read More
First of all this was our 8th cruise with 3 cruise lines and we had anticipated it would be the best experience so far. Before we left we had a few alarm bells ringing in regard to noise in the cabin after we read a cruise critic review that said the forward cabins on deck 11 were directly under the gym and the noise started at 7 am and was loud and constant. Well, I am delighted to say we had cabin 1501 on deck 11 - which was as far forward as they go and it was perfectly quiet with only the odd short burst of subdued thuds from above when a running machine was worked particularly hard in the afternoon now and again. So whether they have reinforced the floor or the report was exaggerated I can assure anyone in a forward cabin on 11 not to worry about the noise and due to the ships amazing stabilizers, there is minimal rocking even that far forward. The boarding process in Sydney's International Terminal is incredible. As we had an Aqua class suite booked our check in time was from 11.30 am. We arrived around 11.25 and were on board drinking an orange juice or champagne by 11.40!!!!. We had even suffered a delay when we were told we were not permitted to take on board a multi pin adapter for our various electrical appliances and had to dig it out and hand it over for collection after the trip. This delayed us almost 5 minutes. So my first piece of advice if sailing on Celebrity is to take a US plug adapter and NO multi point adapters! Once on board we were handed our drinks and were then "jumped on" to buy a drinks package! When we explained we had a Classic package, the staff then tried to upgrade us to Premium. We told them we were fine as we were and were THEN jumped on to buy a specialty restaurant package and about two other various packages. It was annoying to say the least and when it continued over the next couple of days it became offensive. At one point we even tried to find out what cocktails were included in the Classic drinks package and actually couldn't. Guest services didn't know and referred us to a nearby bar which made it clear they didn't serve Classic Cocktails only Premium! This was actually untrue but when we tried to check another bars cocktail menu price list, it contained ONLY Premium cocktails and we started to wonder what the Classic package actually got us for our money! We needn't have worried as once the first few days were past, we had no trouble with the Classic range and assume the difficultly on the first two days was to assist the cruise line to sell more Premium packages. Not the most impressive start to the cruise! The pestering to sell or up sell packages was SO consistent it became a joke among passengers. On entering a lift it was not uncommon to hear a passenger ask if you had the Premium lift package or the Classic as this was a Premium lift!!! On one occasion when asked to buy a package I didn’t want (YET again) I responded by saying I had bought the special ‘staff won’t offer me a package’ package and on another occasion when entering the spa area the manageress approached us to sell us one of her many services and introduced herself by saying she was a qualified plastic surgeon. I put on a shocked look and interrupted her to ask if she was suggesting my wife needed plastic surgery. She looked genuinely shocked and said “No”, to which I said “good because I think she looks perfect”, which of course the manageress agreed and we walked off as I said “well thank goodness we agree on that!” Oddly enough she never tried to sell us anything after that!!!! Once we had access to the cabin we walked in to what appeared to be the smallest cabin we have ever had on any ship. This MAY have been an illusion, but to be honest if my wife or I casually dropped a shoe on the floor of the cabin without carefully putting it away, it became a hazard and we would have found it hard to avoid tripping over it. The balcony was also narrow but may have been deeper than others, though I didn't get that feeling to be honest. On the plus side, our stateroom attendant was the best we have ever had and earned his extra gratuity over and above those paid when we booked. In fact, almost every staff member was first class except for one rather rude indolent female in the cosmetic shop, who apparently took an instant dislike to my wife and I and went out of her way to obstruct our efforts to spend money in the store!! She also ran a training session for a few passengers supposedly explaining the benefits of certain products and as I stood waiting for my wife, it became clear she knew next to nothing about her subject OR about how to deal with people who have a legitimate question on the subject. Having been IN the cosmetics industry myself, TRUST me, she was completely useless. Now a few more pluses. The captain was brilliant. He was funny and very human and made himself VERY available to passengers. Every night his officers walked the decks chatting to any passenger wanting to approach them. A clever and delightful way to run a ship. The shows in the theatre involving the singers and dancers were all top notch and the company has also modified its approach to formal nights instead calling them evening chic, and this appears to have had the positive outcome of far more men getting dressed up for the evening, though not necessarily in suits or dinner jackets. The relaxation of the dress code is a definite improvement - and that is coming from someone who wore a suit and bow tie on the formal nights! Now I must air a few negatives of the ship and the cruise. This was a Christmas/New Year cruise so it was my own fault that I was on a full cruise with over 3300 passengers aboard. The result was a fair bit of queuing and crowding. When the sun came out the external decks were filled with sunbathers with barely a foot to spare between them all. Restaurants had queues for diners waiting to be seated and of course the Bistro area was at times almost impossible to find a seat in. I hate crowds and so for me the numbers WERE a problem. If they don't bother you, then this isn't a problem. Also because it was a cruise during a school holiday - there were a LOT of children of varying ages and they occasionally became a bit boisterous and seemed to have little concern for their fellow passengers - as kids are wont to do. Again I blame myself for booking a cruise at this time of the year which resulted in a lessening of the experience for us. Another problem we experienced on this ship which I hadn't experienced before was that soon after getting access to our cabin, my card failed to open the cabin door, so I went to Guest Services reception and queued for over 30 minutes. I was NOT alone with the problem, but there was NO dedicated staff member to sort this out for all those with faulty cards. I found this frustrating. For your own information, some of the faulty cards had become faulty because they had been placed against a mobile phone, or iPad of other electronic or magnetic device. For your own sake keep your card well clear of these devices and reduce the chances of being forced to queue up for a new card! Two final criticisms of the ship. On EVERY other ship we have sailed on there has been an outside deck where you can sit and look out over the water or walk the length of the deck for exercise without crowds of people all around. The Solstice lacks this deck and that may well partially explain why so many other areas are crowded. Yes, you can get outside on deck 5, BUT there are lifeboats and tenders all along both sides of the ship, so there are limited views of the water when on this deck. There is also limited access, so a walk around the ship on this deck is not possible. The deck also suffers one other problem and it is one that affects virtually every area of the ship. On deck 5 the ONLY seating is wooden deck chairs which are VERY low and for anyone who has any sort of knee problems, getting out of a low seat is very difficult if not impossible. With two shonky knees and a very tall and large body, there was NO way I was ever going to be able to sit on deck 5 outside. The trouble is, that elsewhere on the ship, the design of the chairs has obviously been done with an eye to art and very little attention to comfort or practicality. A mix of low seats with no arms, or seats with ultra high backs and no arms, meant my options of where I could sit were reduced to about 4 or 5 areas only and even THEN there were only limited seats I could use in those areas. I heard several other guests making similar comments, so it really should be something the shipping line needs to look at. There are PLENTY of people less mobile than I who would have their cruise spoiled by this badly thought out mistake. Overall, I have to say I have had two cruises better than this one - a mini suite on Diamond Princess and a cruise on Celebrity Century just before it was sold off. From the moment the hard sell started on arrival I got the feeling Celebrity were copying P & O and THAT is perhaps the worst shipping line to copy! The ship is in pretty good nick and offers the most stable ride out of Australia, but lacks some finishing touches. The curtains in our cabin were fraying and had a couple of holes, the carpet was looking a little tired, but these are minor negatives which on their own would have had no impact on the holiday. More serious was the Spa steam room area where the sauna worked just one day of the 12, one of the two showers was not working on ANY day and the steam room often had no oil in the container so half the benefit of the steam room was lost. When people are asked to pay almost $200 to use these areas, there is NO excuse for it being unserviced and unservicable. Despite reporting the problems several times, NOTHING changed. As a consequence of this trip, I could NOT recommend the ship to anyone I know - the minuses outweighed the positives which is sad. There are a few steps that could be taken to change this - new seats throughout, cutting back on the pushy sales approach on board and maintaining the areas in the spa section to ensure value for money when people pay for specialised services. Those would have been enough to encourage me to give them a second chance on a NON school holiday period, but unfortunately it is unlikely Celebrity will change them and this will be my last cruise with Celebrity - in fact we have already booked our next cruise, which will be on the Cunard Queen Victoria in September around the Mediterranean. Here’s hoping our next experience will be better than this one. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Fantastic cruise from Sydney to New Caledonia to Vanuatu to Fiji and back. Beautiful ship Excellent staff at every location on the boat. Every night at dinner there are 4 wait staff per table. The staff to passenger ratio is ... Read More
Fantastic cruise from Sydney to New Caledonia to Vanuatu to Fiji and back. Beautiful ship Excellent staff at every location on the boat. Every night at dinner there are 4 wait staff per table. The staff to passenger ratio is impressive Public areas like toilets are always pristine with dedicated staff cleaning non stop. Tour of the galleys shows an excellent kitchen, extremely clean. Exceptional quality food. Well worth visiting some of the speciality restaurants too. We visited Murano and Tuscan Grille. Well maintained rooms with twice daily servicing Drinks package was excellent. would recommend it for cruises that have many sea days Improvements - small pools, would be ideal in school holidays if one pool could be for children and another for adults. Outdoor cinema was rarely used - 2 movies I think played in the 12 nights, a daily movie would have been great use of the space. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal ... Read More
We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival. We are Celebrity Elite level members. Here is the good and the not so good. Cabin Attendant – Excellent – Our cabin attendant (Gabriel) was superb. He was always efficient, smiling and helpful. Our departures were noted and our cabin made up immediately. Tenders – Excellent – Tenders were used at Isle de Pines and Mystery Island. On previous Celebrity cruises tenders have been a problem. On this cruise there were only short waits and even long queues moved quickly. The reason was simple – whoever was in charge used up to 7 lifeboats to provide a high frequency service from two boarding platforms. This was a problem from past cruises fixed – let us hope the same approach is adopted on other ships. Photo Shop – Poor – Bring your own camera and take your own photos. Avoid the photo packages. On previous Celebrity cruises the photo packages were good value by skilled photographers. On this cruise we felt there was no skill or art involved and the resulting photos were poor quality camera work such as parts of heads cuts off. Delays and stresses even getting the package USB on the last night suggested incompetence. Shuttle Bus – Excellent – Noumea – Often a problem on other cruises this, like the tender issue, was solved by whoever was in charge by having plenty of buses in Noumea running a high frequency service so there were no waits. Main dining room (Epernay) – Very Good – We had recently been on much higher priced Silversea and Oceania cruises. The food in the main dining room on Solstice was better than the main dining room on each of those cruise lines although not up to the standard of the speciality restaurants on those lines. Celebrity remains the best food in the mega ship market. Service in Main Dining – Excellent – Our waiters (Valentin and Iryna) were excellent and helpful. Seating in Main Dining – Poor – We are Elite Celebrity members but for some reason got about the worst table in the middle of the bottom level of the dining room. We used to get much better tables before we reached the Elite level. At no stage were we aware of the presence of a maitre d’. Coffee – Poor – The coffee throughout the ship is terrible. Café Bacio does not live up to the hype with poor service, attitude and coffee. Coffee was bitter and too hot. Children – Being an Australian school holiday cruise the ship had over 3000 passengers with lots of children (and prams). Most were well behaved but a few insisted upon pushing all the buttons in the lifts and gangs playing chasing games around the corridors on treasure hunts posed a hazard. Smoking – As non-smokers we were pleased that overall the smoking on board was only a minor inconvenience. Walking/Jogging Track – A design flaw of the Solstice is that the jogging track runs around a deck used for sun lounges and often during the day is hard to use because people put their sun lounges across the track. Whilst not as bad as on other cruises this was still an issue and the staff did not move sun lounges off the track. Sun Lounges – Most of the passengers being Australian it was shade rather than sun that was in demand. There were plenty of lounges available in the sun and sometimes in the shade. Unfortunately there was a lot of saving of lounges by passengers who rarely used them or who put belongings on adjoining lounges to stop them being used and give themselves extra space. This did not appear to be policed by the staff. Ocean View Buffet – Excellent – Huge and at times overcrowded it is usually possible to find something to eat from the wide range. The effort made for Christmas and New Year was spectacular and greatly appreciated. Sushi – Not Good – On previous Celebrity cruises Ocean View Café had reasonable sushi in the evening. Now that is gone. Instead there is only a Sushi café on level 5 which costs extra. Embarkation – Good - Surprisingly quick and efficient. On board 25 minutes after arriving at pier at 12.30pm. Unfortunately we were not then allowed off again that afternoon to spend any more time in Sydney and had not been warned this would be the case. Disembarkation – Good - At 6.40am there was a huge line for walk offs which commenced at 6.50am and went so quickly we were at Sydney airport at 7.20am. Itinerary – OK – Australia is a long way from anywhere which means too many days at sea. There were 6 days at sea and only 5 ports on this cruise. Cabin – Clean and functional the cabins are good for the price. Hygiene – Problem – Whilst there is hand washing lotion everywhere the system for obtaining beverages (sodas, water or alcoholic) seemed likely to be very efficient at spreading disease. You have to hand your seapass to a waiter who swipes it and hands it back and then does the same with someone else’s seapass and on it goes. The system needs to be contactless with the passenger simply waving their seapass. Beverage Packages – Poor – Even if the beverage package you purchase includes the type of drink available in your minibar you get charged again if you take it from the minibar. If your package includes Coke you cannot take the can of Coke from your minibar. Your package only allows you to get one drink at a time from a bar even if that drink is water or soft drink (and each time your seaspass is handled by a staff member who is handling lots of other seapasses and bottles and glasses handled by other passengers). At times the brand of bottled water sold was undrinkable. Internet – OK – Internet costs extra still unless some minutes are included in a deal or because of your status. Speed was fair. Security – As an Australian holiday period cruise there were a lot more passengers in the 20-40 age group than on other cruises, many of them appearing to consume vast amounts of alcohol. Given the amount of alcohol consumed security did a very good job of keeping it a safe cruise. It is certainly far safer than going out in an Australian capital city at night. Entertainment – Disappointing – Apart from Aussie Boys the acts and Celebrity in house entertainers were below the standard expected out of US ports. Movies – Some nights recent release movies were shown in Celebrity Central which is a comfortable cinema. Overall we were impressed. Christmas and New Year were made special which they have not been on some other cruises we have been on. Read Less
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