The Ups and Downs of our last minute get-away on Solstice: Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by caseykck

Celebrity Solstice 5
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The Ups and Downs of our last minute get-away on Solstice

Sail Date: October 2011
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
I'm one half of a couple in our early 30s (no kids). We wanted a last-minute get-away, something quite that we didn't have to plan or stress about, so we tried our first cruise together. I think Celebrity was the right choice- we had a lovely time. Being inexperienced cruisers, we asked many of the cruising veterans what their favorite line was. They all liked Celebrity, with one exception (an older lady preferred the floor plans of princess). We loved it.

Boarding: We were instantly liking it upon boarding - we were greeted with some tasty champagne, and were impressed with how stylish the ship was, very sophisticated. We were swept up to the suite line even though we just had an inside stateroom (with no lines) because we were on deck 11 (the penthouse deck).

Ship Overall: Very chic. Loved the art and the sleek feel. Overall very clean. The pools were nice, the Solarium was adult-only (except, on a few occasions I saw kids sneaking in since it was More right next to the general pool). Lots to see, the ship has a ton of small alcoves and areas to sit and enjoy the scenery.

Food: Food was great, Celebrity's forte if you ask me! Murano was amazing, I also highly recommend the champagne high-tea there for $25 a person (completely worth it). The brunch buffet is beautiful and scrumptious. It included ice sculptures galore, and more food than we could ever hope to eat. Other sculptures as well, like a chocolate leaning tower of Pisa. Waffles fresh made with a choice of toppings (we picked the orange butter), pastries, croissants, eggs, omelets, crepes, chocolate fountains and fruit, veggies, shrimp cocktail carved into the ice sculpture, bagels toasted inside sculptures, deserts galore, cake pops, puddings and parfaits, fresh donuts, sushi, three types of quiche, lunch meats, cheese like brie, mini sherry pot pies, and there's so much I'm leaving out However, the dessert extravaganza disappointed us compared to the rest of the food on the cruise. The main dining room was also very good, I liked going there for breakfast and lunch too. I liked it a lot better than the Oceanview Cafe, which was too crowded for lunch. For a buffet it was good (but the quality was better in the main dining room...more fresh). Lunch was very crowded and people were pushy. Long lines for pizza and icecream.
We had some gelato at the cafe al bacio, sat in a nice two seater table and watched the waves, it was a nice setting. But the food at Bistro on Five was better (amazing salads, soups, and crepes), good service and setting as well, all for only at $5 cover. The main dining room has a menu with two sides - one was the staples that stayed the same every night (chicken, sirloin steak, apple pie, etc). The other changed by the night, and included the chef's recommendation. I always tried the chef's recommendation, and it didn't disappoint. If you go to Silk Harvest, try the Solstice Roll. I don't like sushi, but I liked it. At Murano, the cheese souflee, lobster, and mushroom/truffle risotto aren't to be missed. Neither is the chocolate souflee. Tea was included in the price of the cruise, but be prepared, it isn't fresh brewed. It's rather nasty in my opinion, so I stuck with water and bought the occasional soda. Room service also disappointed, it was cold and the cookies were burnt. My biggest suggestion is to stick to the main dining room and speciality restaurants and you'll be very pleased with the food. If you want something fast, go for a burger at the mast grill.

Entertainment: The dancers weren't great, expect in the cirque-de-soliel-like act . The comedian was not bad, but there were repeat performances. The Neptunes a cappella group was awesome - they were funny and good. We liked all the live entertainment in the lobby. It was also great to people watch, people really dress to the 9s on formal night. I enjoyed the casino because it was smoke-free.
We cruised on Easter, so some activities were themed, like Easter services, egg hunts, adult paper bunny folding. Zumba was only on Xbox kinnect. Bourbon tasting for a $17 up-charge (very nice). Seminars about pirates or newspapers. Ping-pong (tournaments too). Bingo (very fun). Texas hold 'em tournaments. Live music included quartets, music in the lounge area at time (people were swing dancing), steel drums, shopping talks, iLounge had tutorials (I wouldn't recommend them, the computers were slow and old, and the guy was kind of a jerk. Don't waste your time with the internet, it was sooooo slow, overpriced and the guy kept having to reset passwords (I guess you have to change your password each time). We liked the free play lawn games on the deck. We played chess in the card room - it was nice and open. The library was also very nice. Free movies in the theatre, and there were also movies under the stars pool side (just one, it was a family movie, Tangled). We mostly stuck to the movies in our room. No newly wed game.

Spa: Messed up a reservation, twice which pretty much ruined my day since it meant i missed morning and afternoon activities. They took $25 off of my price, but that wasn't much considering the treatment was $175. Barber was amazing, my husband loved his shave. It was just the "Express" shave but it took a good 45 minutes with all the hot towel treatments and lotion and exfoliating (he went back for anotehr). It was $45. My up-do for formal night was amazing, I had Emily. It was a braid to the side with a modern twist..I had compliments all night.

Service: Service was spotty, the waiter took forever to get to us, and when he did he wasn't that impressive and difficult to understand. Our assistant server was better. But it was annoying because both gave us the canned speech (should have better coordinated). After the first night the service improved, though. Our cabin steward was great- he always snuck in while we were out to straighten the room. Overall the staff on the ship were pretty good, pool butlers were attentive, people always greeted us and were nice. Overall they seemed to cater to adults, not that many kids on board. But they did have a bad scheduling of events....the pools were supposed to be open till 10 or 11. It was 8 pm and we just returned from San Juan and want to cool off in a pool. We were kicked out of the main pool because they were getting ready for the family movie. So we made our way to the hot tub, then they closed that off as well. We went to the solarium pool. We notice a bunch of teens were in the pool even though it was supposed to be 18 and up, but we let it slide because we wanted to enjoy ourselves. Then, to my surprise, the youth staff from Celebrity told us to get out of the pool!! Said to come back around 10 pm (two hours away??). It was embarrassing to be kicked out of not one, but two pools for kids events (especially when one pool was adults only....they didn't do a great job of kicking out kids when it was adult time, and now they're kicking adults out for kid time...hmph). That left us frustrated with zero options for pool. Big mistake for a cruise line that's supposed to cater to adults.

Other passengers: Mostly adults, some older, some in late 20s -30s like us. Mostly couples, or people traveling with families. If I had a family, I wouldn't go with Celebrity, I'd go for Disney or Royal Caribbean. (They have a kids club, but not really much for kids to do). Lots of gay male couples. Quite a few Canadians. Not a ton of teens, but the few that were present made their presence known in the main pool. Group of Greek boys were very loud and after the pool butler came over once to warn them, he came back to kick them out. There was another teen couple having intercourse in the hot tub in the solarium for the world to see. She was topless was the first sign. The weird part was she was wearing googles. It grossed me out...steer clear of that hot tub. The couple was from a different country..and teens..maybe a cultural thing or just lack of modesty. Most folks were nice and decent, though. A few grouches but over everybody was in a great mood and on vacation.

Our tips:
If you want an inside stateroom, try 1532. It's long with lots of room, quite coordior, priority on boarding.
Go to Murano. Just do it, you won't regret paying the fee.
Do the Champagne high-tea.
Skip the spa seminars and raffles....they just try to sell you things.
If you don't want to pay for a massage, they gave free 5 minute samples in the solarium.
Only go to the buffet if you're in a hurry or eating when the main dining room isn't open, it's not really worth it.
Ladies - get your hair done by Emily.
Gents - get a shave.
Only go to the shows on formal nights - otherwise they kind of stink.
Brunch is to die for! Don't plan on eating breakfast or lunch...this is enough.
Galley tour is very good.
Book your next cruise to save $$ on this cruise.
Skip the room service.
Bingo was a lot of fun.
Bring lots of singles and small bills for shore excursions, lots of locals don't have change (or that's their angle to get a little more)
Enjoy downtime in the little spaces on the the hammocks, cabanas, and reading rooms.
Be prepared to spend extra, we spent $600 for these items on a seven day cruise: Two shaves at the barber, one up-do at the salon, high-tea for two, $100 in casino credit, six pina coladas, lunch for two at the Tuscan grill, a small batch bourbon tasting for one, three games of bingo for two, pressing of one pair of pants in laundry, lunch for two at Bistro On Five, two gelatos, two glasses of wine, one champagne tasting at Cellar Masters, one ten dollar pair of earrings from the shops.

Bottom line, we had a blast and would do it again in a heart beat, even despite a few snags along the way. So we booked our next cruise, on Celebrity Reflection. Less

Published 04/16/12

Cabin review: 111532 Inside Stateroom

Solstice 1532 - inside stateroom with a lot of great benefits for an inside stateroom! Just walk up a flight of stairs and you're in the spa/adult pool area. It's on the suite deck, so it's quite. And you're down a hall that branches off, last one on the line, so it's extra quite. I think the floor plan was nice because it was longways, plenty of walking room. I think our steward was extra good since he was also the one who serviced the suites. Another bonus about being on the penthouse deck: we waited in zero lines while embarking! We were routed to the suites area, even though we're just paying for a lowly inside stateroom. Bed was very nice. Because we're under the spa, it's very quite above us at night since it's closed. I think there's an ice maker near by because we could occasionally hear it dump. It's forward, so we could feel the motion of the ocean a few times, but it was actually kind of nice, it lulled us to sleep. We did need to have the AC checked up on, but the problem seemed to be fixed quickly. I'd for sure book this room again.

Read All Inside Stateroom (11) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We went to San Juan (free trolly takes you from the port to both forts, I highly recommend it). The Forts were very neat, I wasn't sure if I'd be interested in the forts, but the views were amazing and they were very interesting. We ended at Trolly stop 1, a restaurant called Punto De Vista. It was very tasty, we had mofongo (try the pork with the garlic sauce, so good)! They also had two for one flavored mojito that were good. Service was great, and the location was right next to the dock. The place doesn't look like much from the outside, but don't be scared away. We also liked that we could use our cell phones to check with home.
Read 2975 San Juan Reviews

St. Martin - Disappointment. Our shore excursion was at 11:30, so we hung around the port (not much to do, it's kind of closed in and there's no good shopping, just the same places we saw at the last two ports). Then we found out at 11:30 that our shore excursion was canceled, so we wasted the morning for nothing. Celebrity said it was the company who did the excursion, and they didn't tell them till the last minute otherwise Celebrity would have told us earlier. We took a taxi to Friar's Bay. The water was nice, and the beach wasn't too crowded (like Orient), but overall the island was kind of dirty (raw sewage and food waste and trash everywhere). It was also arid, not as lush as St. John. Not the best. Everybody who did the America's Cup shore excursion raved about it, if I ever went back I'd do it. Another thing to note - in April, the water is still quite chilly.

From St. Thomas we took the Red Hook ferry to St. John. I highly recommend it - it was the highlight of our trip! Get there early - it's a 20-30 minute cab ride ($7/person) to the 9 a.m. ferry. Buy both tickets at once (for two people two ways it was $24). Get on the ferry and enjoy the ride to St. Thomas. Once at St. Thomas, grab a cab (really guys with pick-up trucks with beds that have benches and coverings) to Trunk Bay. I liked Trunk Bay - good snorkeling, just a swim away. Great scenery. But go early, because it gets crowded later. After our snorkel we caught another cab (they wait by the bay) for a tour. We were lucky, we had a tour by a guy named "Tiny" (he was actually rather large), who took us around for 3 hours and only charged $50 (total for two). The Sugar Plantation was our favorite stop. He also took us up the mountain to Coral bay. We went by Cinnamon Bay, which looked very nice, but since we just got out of the water we didn't stop. We had lunch over at Coral Bay, at Skinny Legs (good hamburgers, but not much else, not even fries). Tiny waited for us to lunch and took us back to Mongoose for shopping (awesome shopping center with unique items, just pricey). We walked back to the ferry (it leaves on the hour every hour, it takes about 30 minutes to cross), and caught another cab back to the ship. Bring plenty of cash for the taxis, and plenty of singles because they don't make a lot of change. We loved doing St. John on our own, we got to see so much, here's the breakdown: $44 taxi to and from Red Hook Fairy $24 for two round trip fairy ride $14 taxi to Trunk Bay $50 tour with Tiny, plus $10 tip since he was so good $25 for lunch, which included two tropical rum drinks, and two hamburgers. Total: $167 for two to see St. Johns.
Read 4002 St. Thomas Reviews

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