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Sail Date: October 2013
Let’s begin by clarifying that this is Part III in our 3 part series of Back, to Back to Back Cruises. At the end of this review I will give a very brief synopsis of an additional 3 Day Golden Princess Cruise that we sailed, on ... Read More
Let’s begin by clarifying that this is Part III in our 3 part series of Back, to Back to Back Cruises. At the end of this review I will give a very brief synopsis of an additional 3 Day Golden Princess Cruise that we sailed, on 12/1/13. This cruise however, was a 4 Day West Coast Getaway and the third in this series of 3 back to back to back cruises, which my friend and I took. The price was outstanding, practically free and impossible to pass up. It was also a Halloween voyage, which we had never done before and that was a real kick. Disembarkation/Embarkation: My friend and I were “In Transit” Passengers for the third leg of our three back to back cruises. Unlike the second cruise in the series, on the final day of the voyage this time, the Passenger Services provided the documentation for In Transit in a timely manner and our room steward knew we were getting back onto the ship. I am convinced he thought we were never leaving. The next morning we were again to meet other In Transit Passengers at the Crown Grill at 11:00 AM. We then were escorted off the ship with the group and that is exactly what occurred. We took a slight detour out to our car to leave a few items that we did not need for the last four days. Then walked back up the broken escalator and joined the other In Transit passengers waiting to re-board the ship. Cabin: We remained in our forward Aloha Deck balcony stateroom. It was wonderful not to have the usual first day unpacking routine. We were greeted by our room steward, Romeo and told him we had decided not to go home. He laughed. Again, as we were traversing the hallway on Aloha Deck many other room stewards were so amazed to see us still on board. We got lots of hearty welcomes. Dining: We continued to have fixed seating and as mentioned previously, I can wait on line and make reservations for dinner at home; I don’t need to be saddled with that chore while on vacation. Our private table for just the two of us remained the same in the Canaletto Dining Room. Roland and Laura were so pleased to see us back for dinner. By this time, we were so burned out by the same repeat menus it started to get as redundant as our three part reviews. Even the food items that were our very favorites that we were so jazzed to have been able to order for three times in less than ten days, did not taste as good. Bummer! Point of irony, here we are on a Mexican cruise to a Mexican Port, mariachis playing, people drinking marguerites and no ability whatsoever to eat Mexican food on the ship. Note to Princess, Chili Verde would be a nice addition to any of your menus. I would even settle for a Taco Once again there was no Captain’s Circle Party and we got another set of 2 Free Drink vouchers to our stateroom. Our favorite “Choco-Banana” caught the eye of passengers because it looked very scrumptious and so outstanding. And it was! Entertainment: We would like to mention how much we enjoyed Troy Thirdgill. His comedy was down to earth, funny and we really, really enjoyed him. We had an opportunity to speak to him on the last evening of the cruise and what a lovely man he is, warm and kind. If you see him listed on any Princess Patter, make sure to go see him, you won’t be disappointed. Disembarkation: We waited a short time in the Elite disembarkation area and were off the ship in record time. The funny thing about leaving the port, was that the parking lot attendant was so used to seeing people with three or four days to pay for, that when our tally of 11 days showed up on her computer, she nearly jumped out of the booth. We all had a good laugh after we explained why. Overall Opinion of the Cruise: Since this is part III of our review for our back to back to back sailings, one thing to note is a definite difference in the demographics between the 4 day sailing Thursday–Monday as opposed to the 4 day sailing from Monday to Friday. It was dramatic. On the weekend, the 4 day had large families and overall were younger, while the 4 day mid-week returned to a higher age group with less children Addendum: As mentioned above, a month later we took another 3 day Get Away. Not only were we looking at the same menus, the same TV shows, the same movies, but the only option for something new on the TV was the news. It felt as if we were in our own version of the movie Ground Hogs Day. Having said that, what really stands out is that 30 days later, the ship seemed to age even more dramatically. These short cruises are really wreaking havoc on the Golden Princess..   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
With airfare credit that was getting to the "use or lose" state, I had been keeping my eyes open for an expensive getaway, and found it in the Celebrity Solstice 9-night "Wine Cruise". We got a interior guarantee cabin ... Read More
With airfare credit that was getting to the "use or lose" state, I had been keeping my eyes open for an expensive getaway, and found it in the Celebrity Solstice 9-night "Wine Cruise". We got a interior guarantee cabin for a great price, did a bit of research on what to expect and started on our "adventure" to reach the ship. The point of this cruise was just to get away from reality and recharge my internal batteries. We planned very few excursions. I knew, from reading on Cruise Critic, that it might be an adventure to reach the ship itself. Due to the Passenger Vessel Service Act, the Celebrity Solstice was not allowed to sail from Hawaii to the mainland US. Instead, it was required to use a foreign port to disembark passengers finishing one leg of its trip, and embark new passengers. As a result, Celebrity provides service from San Diego to the ship in Ensenada, MX. I also knew that there might be issues with buses, but I was prepared to be patient, knowing I would have 9 nights to recover before starting back toward home from Seattle, WA. Monday, May 6: Upon reaching the airport in San Diego, we spotted a Celebrity representative near the baggage claim. We grabbed our bags, and she had us escorted to a bus to head to the nearby Sheraton for check in. We were told to leave our bags near the bus and they would be loaded onto a truck for transport to the ship. While a little nervous, we knew we had ID on the bags, as well as the cruise line luggage tags (which we put on there twice just in case), and we saw them moved away to a holding location for the next truck. We were transported to the Sheraton Pavilion for check-in. As we arrived, we saw they had already started checking in guests, about an hour earlier than they said they would begin. The line for regular (non-elite, non-priority) guests took about 30 minutes to move through. We checked in and were given transport group numbers in the mid-40's. At that point, we realized we had a bit of a wait, since they were only loading buses with groups in the mid-teens, and we had a while to go. Unfortunately, there was not a way to really go anywhere else, since we were traveling with a couple with an infant and no infant seat. The only restroom facilities were only semi-permanent, with long lines, and they had run out of water. While the cruise line was providing a "snack" for the bus ride, it appeared to be a sandwich and bottle of watter. The line for this snack was crazy, they had run out and were making more on the spot, and we realized that many of our fellow passengers were helping themselves to more than one lunch. Rather sad, but we didn't let it deter us. We decided, with a little while to wait, that we'd try walking over to the main part of the hotel to look for a snack there. We found a nice and clean restroom with real running water and and Starbucks. With refreshments in hand, we headed back to see what boarding group they were on. We finally got on a bus a little after 3pm. From the time we arrived to the Pavilion to the time our bus left, it was about 3.5 hours. This wasn't great, but at least I had known it might be an issue. If I take this trip again, requiring the bus ride, I'll seriously consider paying for a higher class cabin. Those with priority boarding did have an advantage here. Our bus was not as clean as I'd like, but it could have been a lot worse. I really appeared like a city bus after the end of a long day - nothing a good vacuuming and spray cleaner wouldn't have fixed. We set off for the border and ran into no issues. The driver stepped off to speak to the border guards, both on the US and the Mexico sides, but we had no issues. A dog walked around the bus, then tape was put on the compartments under the bus, and we were through. The bus ahead of us was not so lucky, as all luggage was being removed. I have no idea how long they were there. At the last stage of crossing the border, the driver stopped again, and a man with a guitar stepped on. We started driving through Tijuana to Mexican folk songs, like La Bamba, and as we neared the outskirts of Tijuana were asked for tips by the singer. The driver let the singer off the bus after he collected a little cash from some of the passengers, and we were off on the coastal road. The speed limit was 60 KPH (about 45 MPH if you need the conversion), and our bus appeared to be safely driving it. It was a pretty drive once we were on the coastal road. We had a good driver. Later on the ship, we heard some horror stories, both about buses in very poor condition or breaking down on the way as well as about scary drivers. We reached the ship, went through security, handed in our passports (they collected them and gave us a receipt) and boarded the ship just in time to hear the ships horn blow. We arrived at the end of the safety briefing. I knew they would find a way to get us the info, however, since there were plenty of buses arriving after us. Having been on the Eclipse and Reflection, I had a good idea of what would be in the briefing. We checked to see what emergency station we were in, and where that was, and headed to our rooms. As we got there, we found a red card stuck in the lock. Luckily, our room steward showed up just as we started to remove that card. Supriman, who answers to "Superman" would make many appearances over the next few days! Dinner was a bit crazy, as they decided to just seat everyone using Select style, but using the entire dining room a section at a time. We finished dinner and went for a walk around the ship to get a feel for what was different about the Solstice from the two previous S-Class ships we had been on. The most obvious thing was on deck 5, by the Molecular Bar, where there were fewer tables and chairs than on the Eclipse, and instead was a small "art gallery". This area was taken over by Park West and was a waste of space. Since it had been a long day, starting about 3:30 AM Central time, and it was after 8pm Pacific time, we decided to make an early night and get started again in the morning. "Clang" and "Bang" were heard a few times in the night, from our neighbors above us who couldn't control their cabin door. They also turned up their TV so loud that we could hear it through the floors, and then they yelled over it. Oh, well. While this happened a lot, it was never so bad that we called Guest Relations to complain. I was tempted to a few times, but their hours weren't terribly different from ours. Tuesday, May 7:We headed to breakfast about 8am in the Main Dining Room. There was a bit of chaos with getting the ship cleared, and Customs and Border Patrol had apparently decided to change how they were going to clear the ship. Instead of them clearing the entire ship at once, they instead decided to interview every person. We heard a few announcements over the intercom, asked our breakfast companions what that was about, and found out that we should have received a letter in our rooms before breakfast. It seems that all foreign citizens had to present themselves in the Sky Lounge and all US citizens in the MDR on 3 to be cleared individually. By the time breakfast was over, they had at least started letting passengers off the ship. We got back to our room, found the letter had been left while we were out. It told us to report to the MDR on 3 between 11am and 11:30am to be interviewed. So, we had an hour or so to goof off on the ship, then got in line. We were given back our passports by ships security and proceeded to the other side of the dining room to show them to CBP and back out. Another waste of time, but I blame CBP. We could finally start our day! Luckily, our plan was simply to walk down to the USS Midway. We paid our entrance fee to the Midway and spent the next 4.5 hours there. For us, it was a great day. We arrived back at the ship in time for Tea - warm scones to tide us over until dinner. While at dinner, we spoke with Vladimir the Asst Maitre D' with a special request - Spanakopita. He was happy to request it for us - stating it used to be on the menu but was no longer on there, and that he missed it himself. We received it a couple of nights later :) Oh, and it was formal night. After dinner, we reported to the theater for the showing of the emergency video and quick demo for those of us who missed it. Then, the Captain's Toast - except the Captain didn't make it. Instead, the newly arrived Cruise Director handled it. Hmmm, she is from Chicago and attended SEMO. We know where that is! Wednesday, May 8: LA. The ship took forever to be cleared for passengers to go ashore. Since it was a nice day, we decided to stay on board and get some sun. We headed to the Solstice Deck. They had removed the sign allowing topless sun-bathing, which had reportedly been at the steps previously. We could see where it had been. I wonder, is that because they were now in the US? We ran into the IT Manager, and learned that they were in the middle of upgrades to their network and had satellite contractors on board working. We decided the Solstice Deck would be a good place anyway. There were very few passengers that high on this day. Unfortunately, we never saw a bar waiter while up there. On previous sailings, a bar waiter would walk through every 15 minutes or so. We also noted that the blue pool towels often seemed worn and thinner than we remembered. Later in the afternoon, the previous two days caught up with us. A nap was in order. Upon waking and showering, I realized I had a mild sunburn. Dinner in the MDR, a check in with the kids at home, and we pulled away. At some point, I also managed to put my elbow through the sheet on the bed. It apparently had a thin spot. Thursday, May 9: Santa Barbara. Again, the ship took forever to be cleared for passengers to go ashore. This was complicated by the fact that Santa Barbara was a tender port. We sat in the Cafe al Bacio, watching tenders go back and forth, seeing that it looked pretty, and trying to decide if we wanted to go ashore. The sun came out, and we stepped outside. We ended up having a nice conversation with Rachelle, the ship's Concierge. A beautiful young woman, we found that she shares some of our taste in music and likes the same wines we do. We shared that we had decided to make the day a "sea day" of our own and enjoy the ship while it was nearly empty. We visited with her for 10-15 minutes and found out that the reason things seemed "off" for a Celebrity cruise was because the Mexican authorities refused to allow any crew to join or leave the ship while in Mexico, and that the US authorities were very selective in who they would allow to join the ship. Plus, the ship had just come off a Code Red a few days earlier, and the crew was quite tired. She asked us to come down and see her in her office later in the day. When we did, she asked us our room, and what kind of wine we liked. What a surprise! I guess it was just for being nice? From what we later heard, a lot of people had been complaining up and down like crazy. We spent some time in the Solarium so as to not make my sunburn worse. Definitely a lack of bar waiters. Also, I noticed that the towels in my room looked rather worn. Kind of like the once I trim, zig-zag with my sewing machine, and send to school (PE) or camp with my teenagers. Not what I expect from Celebrity's Modern Luxury. We had lunch today in the Bistro on 5. Yum! Friday, May 10: Sea Day - everything was crowded. The weather was not friendly to being outside, and there was not enough to do inside. Park West took over the Sky Lounge for an art auction. When we had bad days like this in the Caribbean in February, the Hotel Director showed movies in the big theater. Not here! The ship had a new (she boarded on Tuesday) Cruise Director, and I think she was still getting into her job. We spent some time in the Solarium just chilling. Again, no bar waiters in 3 hours. Not sure what is up with that! No worries - Rachelle sent us a delightful bottle of wine. Saturday, May 11: San Francisco. We had purchased tickets for Alcatraz a couple of weeks before, and was glad we did! The early sailing were all sold out! The ship cleared a little faster, but not as fast as it should have. We reached Alcatraz Cruises about 8:45 for our 9:10 sailing. We spent the morning out at the island, learned a lot, and arrived back hungry. We considered a few other places, but we have been to San Francisco before and didn't need anything. Checked in with the kids, all is well back home. Sunday, May 12: Mother's Day, and a day at sea. The "Brunch" is today. We avoided that chaos since the same food is available elsewhere on the ship. DH took a few photos of it. Formal night as well. So, we dressed up. Afterwards, I wanted to relax in the Solarium. The pool and hot tubs are supposed to be open until 10-11pm. We got up there and they were drained! The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Monday, May 13: Astoria, OR. It is raining. We'll stay on the ship. I think everyone from Astoria is on the ship to visit it! All wee there have been groups touring the ship, but even more today! Lunch isn't being served in the MDR because we are in port, but the buffet is CRAZY! I think they should have opened the MDR. Tuesday, May 14: Victoria, BC. We finally cleared the ship and stepped off. It was a very steep ramp off from deck 4 (I think). I don't understand why they used so high a deck. In the Caribbean, we often left from 2-3 instead. A number of the passengers struggled to get down that ramp. We were on shore just a few minutes, then decided we were cold and went back to the Solarium. We know we have to go home tomorrow. And darn, there is definitely a lack of bar waiters! Wednesday, May 15: Seattle, WA. We have a disembark time of 9:20. They only have one line open to leave the ship for passengers, not two like in Florida. That line is rather long, but does seem to move pretty fast. Getting off the ship was easy, Customs didn't even want to see our passports. Just handed in our declarations and went looking for our ride. We had transportation booked with "Already There" car service. We reserved an SUV with a car seat. I don't know that I'll do that again - the car seat wasn't installed and the driver didn't know how to install it. The car was older - a 1999 model and the car seat was a number of years newer, and didn't have the extra clip to secure it correctly in that older car. Plus, the car STUNK of smoke. By the time we reached the airport, we needed to pull out the Benadryl and inhaler. In all, the Solstice is a nice ship, but is showing a little wear compared to her sister ships. She was under-staffed and it showed. There were not enough bar waiters, not enough sommeliers, and a couple of the sommeliers were poorly trained. Yes, I would take this trip and sail this ship again, but I wouldn't want it to be my first Celebrity sailing. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This was our first Celebrity cruise. We cruise often and have cruised with many of the other major cruise lines (Holland America, Princess, Norwegian, RC, Carnival). We did the CA Coastal repositioning cruise from Ensenada to Seattle. ... Read More
This was our first Celebrity cruise. We cruise often and have cruised with many of the other major cruise lines (Holland America, Princess, Norwegian, RC, Carnival). We did the CA Coastal repositioning cruise from Ensenada to Seattle. It is hard to rate this cruise because it was very much a mixed bag but overall, we were very disappointed in Celebrity and probably will not sail this cruise line again. We did have a great time but this was in spite of the cruise line. We met nice people and enjoyed the port stops (did all non-ship excursions, none with the cruise line.) Ship - the ship was beautiful. We enjoyed the lawn, hot glass show and relaxation/indoor pool area. The layout of the ship was very easy to learn. Enrichment/Entertainment - The productions shows were very good. If you wanted to attend the early show (8:30 and 10:30 show times), you had to arrive 30 minutes early if you wanted to get a seat (not a good seat but any seat). They had Brent Nixon do two enrichment talks but due to poor planning, the talk on Orcas was completely full 30 minutes in advance (They used the Celebrity Central, which isn't big enough). About 20 to 30 people were standing and they were trying to bring in more chairs. It was chaotic. Other talks from other speakers were so boring and dull, we had to walk out. State Room - average. It was no better or worse than any other ship we have been on. There was one unusual thing. The sofa blocked half of the closet (had sliding doors) so you were forced to reach into the closet if you hung clothes in the other end of it. It was very odd and wasted space. We did have issues with noise most nights. We must have been close to a closet or storage area (though we checked the deck plans very well to avoid this and nothing appeared to be close to us). We had to call some nights to ask them to stop the noise (like someone was spraying a hose on the back of our wall, lots of banging of things, dropping things, etc). They handled it but it took a while for them to "find the source of the noise". Dining in Main Dining Room - We had the late seating. Some meals were very good and others average. The service was excellent. The food was no better than we have had on other cruise lines such as Carnival, Norwegian, etc. Sometimes the soups were not hot enough. Overall, a pleasant experience in the main dining room. Oceanview Buffet - Extremely poor selection (same thing every night) and service, the worse we have ever had on any ship. The staff and management seemed oblivious to the issues in the Oceanview Buffet. It was understaffed (one person taking omelet orders, one person manning an entire section). On most days, you had to walk to more than one tea/juice machine because the machine was out. For some reason, they didn't use all of the machines at one time so you had to figure out which machine actually had tea/juice in it. Once I poured tea and water came out. I had to walk around and find a staff person. He told me that it did have tea in it. I had to bring him over and show him that only water was coming out It took about 15 minutes to refill it. No other machines were working that day. This issue became laughable. They were often out of the "to go cups" for coffee and you had to tell them it was out. Things weren't refilled without someone being told it was out. It wasn't from lack of trying. I felt it was lack of training, leadership and management in the buffet area. Another example is, if you requested grilled chicken, they would grill it on the same part of the grill that they had just used to grill fish. Again, it was laughable. Clearly, it was lack of training because the staff was working hard and was very pleasant. Specialty Dining - Tried Bistro on Five for lunch, which was very good. Tried Silk Harvest (Asian Fusion) and it was like eating a typical frozen Chinese meal you buy at the grocery store that you cook in the microwave. We were shocked that they were charging $30 per person for the quality of the meal. Ports - We loved the ports, CA coastal, Victoria, and Seattle. Avoided all ship tours and so glad we did. I only heard negative feedback. Travel to Embarkation - This was a nightmare. I feel compelled to warn others about this experience because I feel it is a tragic accident waiting to happen if things do not change. The bus ride from San Diego to Ensenada was extremely dangerous. We were required to board in Ensenada and the ship arranged bus transportation for everyone. Check in was done at a tent at the Sheraton hotel in San Diego. There were portable bathrooms outside of the tent with extremely long lines. The Sheraton had guards at the doors so that cruise ship passengers could not enter into their hotel. The entire embarkation process was unorganized and long. The buses used was from a Mexican bus company. Our driver was speeding the entire time, changing lanes very often and overall driving recklessly. When I saw the signs" dangerous curves ahead and "landslides Zones" I thought he would slow down. He sped up! The transmission was making loud noises when gears were shifting. The bus was filthy. There was food and gum in the window will. My window had several almonds that had white, fuzzy mold on them. The bathroom didn't lock, smelled horrible and the sink had a board nailed over it. One bus got lost several times and the another one broke down and they had to get on a new bus. I did go to Guest Relations and told them the entire story and my husband and I had to put everything in writing (along with others at Guest Relations that were also complaining about their bus ride, not on our bus, but with similar experiences). We were told that these were not Celebrity buses, as if to say that this was not really their fault. This is when I lost faith in Celebrity. They booked these buses. They are responsible. The line for Guest relations was very long the first 2 days. There were many others complaining about their bus ride. Summary - Again, we had a great time in spite of the cruise line. I feel this ship has a lot of potential with great, hardworking staff (just not enough of them in certain places on the ship and many that need better training). I feel like somewhere along the line, someone in upper management has dropped the ball. Maybe things will get better but for now, we are sticking with Holland America (our favorite so far), Princess, RC or Norwegian. 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Sail Date: May 2013
This was my 11th cruise. In the past, we have chosen our ship and cruise line by destinations rather than loyalty to a particular cruise line and as a result we have been on ships from Holland America, Princess, Disney, Norwegian, Royal ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise. In the past, we have chosen our ship and cruise line by destinations rather than loyalty to a particular cruise line and as a result we have been on ships from Holland America, Princess, Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity. Usually we take a cruise because we want to get away from the Seattle rain, and also because we want to see someplace new and different. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have been particularly interested in a cruise up the west coast of the US that stopped in places I had already visited many times. However, when we received an e-mail from a travel agent we had used before explaining the deal he had put together we decided it was just too good to pass up. Celebrity was doing a repositioning cruise to get the Solstice from Australia where it had bee cruising in the Southern Hemisphere summer to Seattle where it would be on the summer run to Alaska. They broke the trip up into 3 segments, the last being the trip up the west coast from Ensenada. I suspect they had a lot of empty cabins and they offered our travel agent some great prices. He offered to fly us to San Diego (air fare included)where we would check in and then be bussed to Ensenada, an outside balcony cabin, a drink package where drinks including specialty coffees, all soft drinks and bottled water, beer up to $5, mixed drinks up to $8, and wine up to $8 glass were all included and unlimited. Then to top it off, all gratuities were included. This was a 10 day 9 night cruise with stops in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria B.C. and finally ending in Seattle where we live. The price for all this was $999 per person plus some tax and port fees which came out to a total of just over $1200. We could also leave early to spend extra time in San Diego at no extra charge except we would be paying for our hotel and any other pre cruise expenses. That package deal along with knowing we would be escaping the normal May rain in Seattle was enough to get me to pull out the old credit card. First, let me say Celebrity does many thing right, but the do some things very wrong. Because of the Passenger Vessel Service Act, an old law from 1886 meant to protect American shipping and American jobs, a foreign flagged vessel can't leave one American port going to another American port without stopping in a distant foreign port. The ship was coming from Hawaii so it couldn't end the cruise in San Diego. Likewise our cruise was ending in Seattle so we couldn't start in San Diego. We had to start in Ensenada. This was not Celebrity's fault but they had to transfer well over 2000 passengers to Ensenada. Everyone expected the check in to be a bit of an ordeal. Celebrity had never done this before since this wasn't a regular cruise. We had to check in for the cruise in San Diego and then get on buses for a two hour ride to Ensenada. We had to cross the international border with our luggage and nobody knew how long this would take. They said they were going to start check in at noon but we got there at 11:30 and they were already started. When I go on a vacation, I really try not to be upset by the little things and I understand and expect glitches along the way. I do know there was a lot of grumbling from people about how the check in was handled and I will explain what happened and maybe Celebrity will learn what they can do better next time. We got divided up into different lines at the check in. There was a drop off where we left our big bags before we actually started the check in process. These were to be taken directly to the ship by truck. The check in happened at the Sheraton Hotel where they had a huge white tent where people stood in line to get checked in. People who had the more expensive cabins or who had sailed many times on Celebrity got special treatment and got into shorter lines. That seems reasonable and I don't think anyone objected to that. We had sailed on Celebrity before but not enough to get into a short line. Still the lines moved pretty quickly and by 12:15 we were checked in and had been assigned a group number for boarding our bus. We were group 41. They had seats for us to sit with our carry on luggage. Celebrity had arranged for box lunches and water which were to be given out on the buses. I can understand that it takes time to move close to 3000 people but people were getting hungry and some people managed to get their box lunches early and were eating them and others including us were hungry and were told no lunches until we get on the bus. I understand that was a way of controlling who received lunches but as the afternoon rolled on, hunger was a problem. It was ridiculous to make us wait until almost 3 p.m. (when we got on our bus) for our lunch. The second problem was that while we were in groups waiting, there was a steady stream of people who were put at the head of the line. These were frequent cruisers on Celebrity who were allowed to jump to the front of the line and that created a lot of resentment to those who had been waiting. We finally got to board our bus at 2:45PM and got our box lunch. If I was making suggestions to Celebrity, I would say give people their box lunch as they finished their check in. Give people a number to get on the bus then and don't allow anyone the right to jump in front of other passengers just because they have sailed many times before. I didn't mind them having shorter lines for check in but after check in, then people should be treated equally. I also think nobody would mind if there were separate buses just for the privileged passengers but to see people continually allowed to jump ahead offended many who were waiting. We left San Diego just before 3 and were getting off the bus at the ship just before 5 PM. We went right to our cabin and they were announcing the lifeboat drill for 5:30. There was still over a third of the passengers who hadn't arrived. We went to the drill which was really just a video in the dining room and then went off to explore the ship. Since we had just eaten at 3 we were not hungry. We were very impressed with the ship. It is big and beautiful with lots of glitz. My dear wife loves her coffee and we found a specialty coffee place called Cafe al Bacio on deck 5 that serves wonderful coffees all free with our drink pass. We stopped for an iced specialty coffee that was made with espresso and chocolate and whipped cream and was fantastic. We sat down with some folks from Australia and had a great time just relaxing. A second thing that Celebrity does that I found annoying and dumb was they way they handled the service club meeting. Many passengers on cruises are members of service clubs like Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis etc. and most cruise ships have a time and a place where the members of the various service clubs can meet and talk about what their clubs are doing. They advertise the location and time for these meetings in the daily bulletin. It is a great way to meet your fellow passengers who share interests with you. So, I went down to the customer relations desk when it wasn't too crowded to ask if they were having a service club meeting on board. We had a great meeting on the last Celebrity sailing I was on but the people at the Solstice desk seems to have never heard of it. They said it was against company policy to put announcements for things like that in the daily bulletin. I would think they would do everything the could to get people who are in service clubs to cruise with them. It would be so easy to put the announcement in the daily bulletin for a day at sea. They said they would put a notice up on the bulletin board by the desk but of course very few people would read it. This whole episode just makes me wonder who is really in charge and how bright they really are. The way Celebrity handled this was very poor and I would actually hesitate to sail with them again just because they treated us so shabbily. They put the notice of the meeting up on a bulletin board that few read, and then put the wrong location on the notice. Then they took the notice down to fix their mistake but forgot to put it back up. Not surprising, we didn't get a big turnout. To me, this is just an example of Celebrity missing the boat when it comes to service. The ship itself was very nice. It was large but never felt crowded. The main dining room was in the back of the ship on decks 3 and 4. We chose select dining meaning we didn't have an assigned table or time. We ate on deck 4 for dinner and usually sat at a table for 8 or 10. We usually had new table mates for each dinner which gave us an opportunity to meet more people. We found many people were from the Northwest and were on the same cruise package deal we were on. The food was very good and we never saw a need to visit any of the specialty dining rooms where there was a charge. The first night, things were a bit confused with very slow service but after that, everything went very smoothly. Our stateroom was about what I expected. It looked very nice and the bed was comfortable. It had a bit less closet and drawer space than some ships I have been on and the way the closet was situated, it was hard to use. There was the couch set to within about 18 inches of the closet which was really just poor design. Other than that, the room was very nice and we lucked out because we were near the elevator. The room contained the normal amenities like a refrigerator and a safe. We had great cabin attendants who would make up the room promptly and deliver ice. Overall we were quite pleased with the accommodations. One of the best places to hang out on the ship was the solarium. This was an adults only pool on deck 12 that had a glass roof. It had a swimming pool and two hot tubs and lots of lounge chairs. Even when the temperature was in the 50's on our sea day north of San Francisco, the solarium was quite warm. With our drink card package, we could sit in there and read while imbibing on a margarita or a cold beer. The shows were very professional. They were at 8:30 and 10:30. The early show was always full and the late show nearly empty. I think they would have been better off to start them at 7:30 and 9:30. There were several comedy acts, a magician and some Broadway singing. Then there was a spectacular show with acrobats doing a Cirque du soleil type performance. Everyone says to make sure to see the Hot glass show. This is up on deck 15 where they have the lawn. I don't really see the need for the lawn on the ship but they have it. The hot glass show was interesting but it is cold up there and most people watched for awhile and then left. It was ok but not a can't miss as far as I was concerned. The observation lounge in the front of the ship is normally one of the nicest places to spend your time on a sea day. The lounge of deck 14 was very nice but I was disappointed that they decided to use this space for an art auction on our second sea day. They put art up in such a way you couldn't sit and watch the water. This took up the whole day and since this cruise only had 2 sea days, it meant that half the time the observation lounge was not usable. This again was just poor planning on the part of the people in charge. I know that the art auction makes money for the cruise but I doubt if there were 50 people interested in it out of 2700 passengers and it sure inconvenienced those of us who wanted to sit and look for sea life. My overall opinion of Celebrity was the ship was great, the food was great, the solarium was great. The cabin was pretty good, and decisions that allowed the art auction in the observation lounge, the lack of putting the service club announcement in the daily bulletin and they way they handled the busing and lunch for Ensenada was down right dumb. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This being our first time on a Cruise Line other than Princess we were just plain amazed at the beauty of the ship inside and out. We did not have to participate in the bus adventure from San Diego to Ensenada to embark. We came into ... Read More
This being our first time on a Cruise Line other than Princess we were just plain amazed at the beauty of the ship inside and out. We did not have to participate in the bus adventure from San Diego to Ensenada to embark. We came into Ensenada on a Princess ship and then just walked across the pier to board the Solstice. Everyone that came from San Diego on the buses had their Sea Pass Cards already, but it only took about 10 min. for someone to take our information that the ramp and go make up our cards. We were onboard in about 15 min. from disembarking the Princess ship. With the lovely ship we were expecting great service, but that was not to be. The staff were efficient and did greet everyone, but it was robotic. We did see the Glass Blowing show, but there are not enough seats for everyone. The show was well done and explained in laymans terms. The Theater Shows were better than Princess with the Cirque style show above and beyond anything we expected to see at sea. Having the two level theater seating is a big plus. Having grown up on the West Coast and done other coatal cruises we did not take any of the tours offered. The Tender operation into Santa Barbara went very smoothly, good job. Our Veranda stateroom with the extra bed was a little tight at times, but the larger bath than on Princess with the glass shower and shower foot rest were pluses. The closet is much smaller with less storage space and I could not understand the cages under the beds just taking up space. The food was better than on Princess, but with a 10 person table being so long and thing one might as well sit at a 4 person table. The round 8 person tables were perfect for conversing. Service was good at all our meals. The buffet was very large and nice, but I do prefer the servers coming around with all the beverages and then serving them at the table. Then also having cups and silverware already on the table. Just get your plate of food and everything else is taken care of on Princess. We did not try any of the Speciality Restaurants as we deemed them too expensive. Some of the venues for events were too small or just not designed to be multi-purpose. Bingo was way overpriced and in too small of a space with no where to put down your cards. Ping Pong in a main thourough fare area, come on. I just missed hitting a lady in the face as I was going for a ball. Good for spectator viewing, but not for playing a tournament. The Martini bar was a great place if they would only turn down the Techno music. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This cruise is a Pacific Coast Itinerary. This is the repositioning of the Solstice from Australia to Alaska. We started out in San Diego by heading to the Sheridan Marina to check in for our bus trip down to Ensenada Mexico which is ... Read More
This cruise is a Pacific Coast Itinerary. This is the repositioning of the Solstice from Australia to Alaska. We started out in San Diego by heading to the Sheridan Marina to check in for our bus trip down to Ensenada Mexico which is about 90 miles.to start our cruise. We got there around 2:00pm. At first I noticed a very long line for check in , however as everyone in my party had booked suites, our line was empty and the 8 of us managed to check in immediately. After check in we were told to walk outside to the buses and all of us got onto the waiting bus. It took all of 15 minutes to check in and get on the bus. We were given box lunches which were at best, fair and proceeded down to Ensenada via I-5. It took us 35 minutes to reach the US-Mexico border and going into Mexico uneventful. While in Mexico, our driver was going pretty fast towards Ensenada and the Mexican Police actually stopped us. Don"t think he got a ticket as we were on our way pretty fast (maybe a bribe?). At least he slowed down. Our trip took about 2 hours. Went aboard the Solstice and were able to go immediately to our cabins. Able to watch all the dogs sniff through our luggage section by section when it arrived at the dock. Th Solstice is gorgeous. Our cabin was on the 11th floor, beautiful and large. We had a 1/2 bath when you enter and a dining area with a bar , wine rack , refrigerator and a dining table that seats 6.. On the bar was 2 bottles of liquor and canned sodas for us. Very nice. The master bath is beautiful. With separate shower, whirlpool bath and double sinks with plenty of room for our toiletries. Bedroom is large with very comfortable bedding and pillows. There is a small makeup table with great lighting ( hairdryer is in the closet if needed) and a large flat screen TV. Really loved the Royal Suite. Will definitely reserve this room again. Centrally located, right by the elevators.My friends had the Penthouse suite, another Royal Suite and a Celebrity Suite. We even had our own hallway. Hardly ever saw anyone in the halls We ate in Blu the first night. Unfortunately we did not like. I actually had to send my food back. The chicken was bone dry and not eatable. Found out later that all the food trucks were not allowed over the border and the ship had to use the food left from the previous cruise (Hawaii) We ended up eating mostly specialty restaurants. Loved them all. I think my favorite was Silk Harvest. We ordered almost everything on the menu (no sushi). Very good. Tuscan Grill and Murano's were excellent. We traveled the Pacific Coast. I found the weather to be colder and rainier than expected. Had to purchase a warmer jacket. As I had had a part time residence in Southern California, I took our friends to the tourist haunts The San Diego Zoo in San Diego, . In Los Angles we went to Hollywood walk of fame, the "Hollywood" sign and went to the "Farmers Market/Grove" Managed to catch a taping of Extra" and were even part of the show. Lots of fun. Our next day at sea, I was invited by the captain to the Bridge. That was a highlight and fascinating. Security is very tight and we were frisked with the hand wand. before going in.That was definitely on my bucket list. Next we went to San Francisco and I must say my favorite. Took the trolley to Union Square and walked thru Chinatown, Little Italy back to the Embarcadero. Did everything on my list for that city. Another day at sea, then we were in Astoria Oregon. Very rainy, very cold. Felt bad for the vendors, they don"t get too many ships into their port. Did not stay on shore very long. Our last day was in Victoria BC, a lovely town and a beautiful day. Went to the Empress Hotel for afternoon tea. pretty expensive $59.95 per person for tea and crumpets . To go home, we decided to use Celebrity's Luggage Valet Service You need to sign up for this the first few days of the cruise. The cruise line does not tell you if they accept you until 24 to 48 hours before you leave. We were accepted and it is the best $20.00 per person spent.. They give you your boarding passes, luggage tags and instructions. We put our luggage out the night before. Got off ship and straight thru Customs and out the door at our leisure. No waiting around and no looking for our luggage. . Went to the airport, (where we happened to miss our connection), but our luggage still traveled with us. First ones off the baggage ramp after we landed. Highly recommend. This was truly one of the best trips for me. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This was our first cruise on Celebrity. I had heard that the food was way better than other lines we had been on and the ship was gorgeous. I have to say, I don't agree with either. We flew into San Diego and were greeted by celebrity ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Celebrity. I had heard that the food was way better than other lines we had been on and the ship was gorgeous. I have to say, I don't agree with either. We flew into San Diego and were greeted by celebrity staff. Celebrity provided transfers to Ensenada, where the ship was departing from. We arrived at the airport at about 11 and were taken by bus to the Sheraton Marina for checkin. The lines were long and we had to wait for a bus to take us to Ensenada. The bus trip took two hours and we had no problems. We did have to wait in line before we were allowed to get off the bus. This cruise became the "queue" cruise. It seemed we waited in line an awful lot. Our bags arrived in a timely fashion and after muster we had dinner in the main dining room. We ate all of our meals in either the MDR or buffet. The food was adequate, but not as high quality as I had been expecting. I thought the variety of food was lacking and my husband and daughter had to send their steaks back to have them cooked properly. The breakfast buffet was ok, but lacked variety and was boring after nine days. We did have the free drink promotion, so we were able to get fresh squeezed orange juice every morning, which we enjoyed. We felt the entertainment on the ship lacking also. We skipped most shows as they did not interest us. We went to see the comedian, Dave Burleigh, who was very good. The next night was a comedian/impressionist. We left before the end of the show. Also, the cruise director was the most absent cruise director of any ship we have ever been on. She didn't do anything to make the cruise entertaining. After nine days, my daughter had no idea who she even was. The ship is pretty, but we missed the active promenade area that we are used to on the Royal Caribbean ships. There was no real gathering place on this ship, except for the martini bar area, which is very small. The ships interior trim and quality was beautiful and the cabin decor was very nice, but the cabins are on the small side. This sailing was definitely an older crowd and as far as we could tell, most people went to bed after the first main show. We were disappointed in the lack of activities at night. We went to a "jeopardy" type game show and there were about 8 of us there. Same goes for the trivia and karaoke. Most activities at night involved music, which were the same every night in various venues. We did enjoy Patricia and her Zumba classes and party. Since the weather was so cold, we were not able to really use the lawn area or the hot glass show. We went up to watch once and it was just too cold to stay. Not Celebrity's fault on that one.We did love the itinerary though. We did the San Diego zoo, California Adventure(which was cut a little short due to the ship not being cleared for over an hour and a half once we arrived), cable car, Chinatown and fisherman's wharf in San Francisco. Saw only a bit of the Golden Gate Bridge going under when we arrived and departed as it was shrouded in fog the entire day. Walked around downtown Astoria, where all the locals went out of their way to make this stop enjoyable and finally Victoria, where we toured Butchart Gardens and enjoyed their downtown, shopping and having a beer at a Scottish pub. Overall, we had a good time. I liked not being hounded for extra money for everything, although i thought the charges for the specialty restaurants were a bit high. Loved the ports, the ship, not so much. It was definitely an older crowd (and we are in our fifties), With scooters parked out by the stairs. We will stick with Royal Caribbean. We enjoy a livelier cruise with better entertainment and activities. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Embarcation started smoothly at San Diego Airport. Celebrity met us and directed us to buses and our bags were taken to trucks. I asked the representative if we needed our paperwork i.e. set & sail pass and was told no just needed ... Read More
Embarcation started smoothly at San Diego Airport. Celebrity met us and directed us to buses and our bags were taken to trucks. I asked the representative if we needed our paperwork i.e. set & sail pass and was told no just needed credit card and passport, which I found out was wrong after getting bussed to a Sheraton hotel for processing along with thousands of other passengers. At the processing it was by room class so even being elite we end up in a 45 minute waiting line and then have a new girl with a lap top that never seemed to work take another 30 minutes to reenter everything I had entered online including swiping my credit card over 40 times before it seemed to be approved. (the next day I was summoned to pursor when to redo it all again). Then we massed together in a mob of 200 to run for box lunches and the buses to be transported to Ensenada and to go through immigration. Three hours later at 6 pm we boarded. Our bags arrived at 10 pm after open seating dinner at 8:30. Of course almost all entertainment was either delayed or rescheduled I guess since mostly we never found out until too late and were too exhausted to do much but hit the sack after getting notice we would have to through immigration again the next day in San Diego to get off the ship. The next day we waited for the ok to go ashore, finally after no announcements we were down to deck 4 and found lines with hundreds of people who like us received no announcement. After wasting all this time half of our time ashore was gone so just went to the USS Midway museum nearby (which was great)grabbed a soda and headed back to the ship.So we had wasted the better part of two days, everything we wanted to go like the welcome party and meet and greet was either cancelled or rescheduled and we missed them. As for the ship it was nice, clean and very concerned with sanitation as they had some prior norovirus problems I was told. The room steward Ronald and his assistant were exceptional, it seemed they were always working, but always willing to answer questions or be of service. The food in the MDR was very good though it seems the number options has dropped and only 4 or 5 entrees. We dined in the Tuscan Grille which was good in parts; my filet was great, my spouses blackend ribeye was tough and chewy sent back and replaced by one even worse. Desserts were pretty but bland. The buffet was very good particularly in the Morning for eggs, omelets and pancakes. The coffee bars and restaurants on 4 and 5 very good. The main problem with the cruise was there never seemed to be a place that wasn't jammed. All of the public areas near both elevator shafts always seemed full. Both floors of the library , the team earth floor, the internet room,the card room, the lounges, the bars, the guest services, excursions, everywhere you looked it was packed( atleast from 6 am to 10pm). Partly this was due to cool weather no one used the open air pool areas, bars, or lawn areas even the solarium was usually empty. And consequently the elevators were always running and waits were long. The other factor was it seemed everyone on board was 65 or older, active but not ones to partake of strenous activity or cool weather. We were told there were 600 Elite cruisers, but it seemed everyone I met was, and if not Elite they were Suite or Concierge Class.We have another cruise booked with Celebrity in the fall on the Summit going to Quebec from New Jersey which with 123 program and cooler weather looked to have the same clientel and weather which I probably will cancel after having been on this cruise. This wasn't a bad cruise it started very poorly and was very disorganized (like everyone was new to their jobs)but the crew seemed overwhelmed and proccupied. We will cruise with Celebrity again as it was our favorite line but we certainly will think a lot more about it Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
First, this line or maybe just this ship lacks any effective communication with its guests. Embarkation and tendering were utter disasters and resulted in at least 2452 passengers that were unhappy from the very start and a topic of ... Read More
First, this line or maybe just this ship lacks any effective communication with its guests. Embarkation and tendering were utter disasters and resulted in at least 2452 passengers that were unhappy from the very start and a topic of conversation over dinner for the entire cruise. We checked in at the Harbor Sheraton at 1:00 PM as specified on the useless website. We finally got on a bus (#50) at 4:30 PM. Finally got on board near 7:00 PM in Encinada. Our luggage finally got to our room after 9:00 PM. At the check in facility, there was no PA system to inform passengers as to to what was going on, or where facilities were etc. A talented high school gym teacher with a bull horn could have easily solved the problem. Food was being served outside, but no one knew it. The restrooms were also outside and you only found that out by chance rumor. If you simply got in the bus line after check in and denied that you had been given a bus assignment, you were just boarded on the next available bus. Honest, compliant people just waited and got on their assigned bus hours later. Their website is very short on information. We could not find show times. We could not find definitive wine and alcohol policy. Two bottles per stateroom. What size, when etc. Their website needs a major overhaul. The 800 number is not much better. In trying to determine whether to accept late dining or open dining, we were told that shows were anywhere from 6 and 9 to 7 and 10. Actual times were 8:30 and 10:30. We chose open dining based on that bad information. That only allow us to go to the open dining room and get in line for over 30 minutes to be seated. As for the cruise, the ship is absolutely outstanding. Room was very good. Service was excellent. Dining room waiters and assistants were very good. Food was OK but not great. The Ocean View Cafe evening menu was very limited compared to the dining room selections. Hot foods were cold and salads were warmer than then they should have been. We also waited over an hour in Seattle for our rental car pickup. We docked at a different pier than the website told us they would. Again, their communication absolutely sucks. Having previously cruised on Holland America, Delta Queen, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean etc. we will never again use Celebrity. Just a lot better options out there. Read Less

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