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Celebrity Solstice Review

5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating
2121 reviews
30 Awards

What a great vacation, but not the best cruise line!

Review for Celebrity Solstice to the British Isles & Western Europe
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DGJax
10+ Cruises • Age 40s

Rating by category

Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin

Additional details

Sail Date: Oct 2012
Cabin: Sky Suite 2

-Let me first start off by saying that I have cruised extensively with Royal Caribbean and Carnival in the past, and this was my first time sailing with Celebrity. I had my Royal Caribbean credits transferred to Celebrity, though, so I am an "elite" member of their Captain's Club program.

-We started our vacation off by flying into Barcelona 2 days ahead of our sail date. (For new cruisers, if you are leaving from a port that is not near your home, it is most advisable to arrive at least 1 day ahead of time to give you a cushion against flight delays/cancellations and other travel mishaps.) Check in at the Barcelona port was an absolute breeze, except that the seapass card for a last minute addition (well, 3 days prior to sailing) to our stateroom was not ready. No big deal, though. We boarded the ship and were greeted with complimentary champagne and mimosas. Nice touch. The ship itself is very nice. It is well decorated and has a nice layout. The public areas are beautiful, for the most part - save an awkwardly decorated & enhanced foyer that you must pass through any time you want to go to the specialty restaurants or the Concierge lounge. (It is a room about 5x5' and has black walls with flowers on the vine painted on them, and ants are painted on the floor - all with 'outside' noises being piped in. The sky is painted on the ceiling and there's a large vase on a lighted pedestal. It's very strange, and the posted explanation doesn't clear it up much.) There is even a hot glass blowing studio on board, where you can watch glass blowers at work creating beautiful pieces of art. They cannot sell their work, but they do offer a charity auction at the end of the cruise featuring a few pieces made during the sailing.

-Having sailed so much with Royal Caribbean (R/C), we were expecting everything to be at least 1 notch better on Celebrity, as Celebrity is billed as a Luxury liner and an upgrade to R/C. This turned out NOT to be the case in all areas except dining. We ate in the Oceanview Cafe (Windjammer for those used to R/C), the Dining Room, Tuscan Grill and Murano (both Specialty Restaurants which have a cover charge) and we ordered room service. Overall, the food was outstanding. The food in the Dining Room offered a great variety every day, as in there were many meal options to choose from for each meal. There is a standard set menu that is offered every day with soup, salad, steak, chicken, etc, and then there is the daily menu which also offers good variety from beef, veal, pork, chicken, lamb, vegetarian, etc. The "types" of food offered was a good variety, as well - it wasn't too heavily focused on one cuisine or another. The Specialty Restaurants we tried were both very good, as well, though in my humble opinion they made the food too 'fussy' for its own good. For example, in Murano I ordered filet mignon, and it came out as 3 mini-filets wrapped in puff pastry, each with a separate sauce and topping. Perhaps I'm just too used to Chops Grille on R/C, where a filet mignon comes out as a filet mignon that could put any Ruth's Chris, Morton's or Del Frisco's to shame. The Oceanview Cafe offered a good variety of food, as well, though it stuck to the same type of food every day. There was the indian cuisine station with some curry, the mexican station offered the same tacos, fajitas and chile con carne every single day without variation. The salad bar had the same cold salads every day. The sandwich bar had the same bread and meat assortments daily. The grill put out the same minute steak and grilled chicken breast daily. There was very little food that actually changed. This being said, the food was still very good.

Cabin Review

Sky Suite 2

Cabin S2

The room was more spacious than we initially anticipated. We did not, however, like that it is as far aft on the ship as you can possibly get. It is a good hike to the nearest elevator, and if you're trying to get to places in the forward of the ship, it is a long walk indeed. It has a good balcony, but window washing equipment is stored on the other side of the railing on one side of the balcony. If you use the sofa sleeper, once it is opened up there is only about 4" clearance between the end of the sleeper bed and the bathroom wall, which is very inconvenient for people to try to get around at night in the dark. We moved the sofa about 6" closer to the middle bed and this greatly helped, but this is not the standard room set up.

Port Reviews

Florence (Livorno)

Our tour Guide for San Gimignano had a very thick accent and it was hard to understand her a lot of the time. She also walked extremely fast and had a tendency to leave people behind, as she was not paying close enough attention. There were a number of disabled people in this tour group, and despite repeated requests for her to slow down or wait for people to catch up, she would not and when I confronted her about it, she said she "had to deal with the majority of the group and worry about the stragglers later."

We picked up a different tour guide for Volterra, who was much easier to understand. Unfortunately, her itinerary was not very good. We were given 5 minutes to explore the Cathedral of Volterra which is an ancient, but very beautiful church and separate baptistry building, yet she spent 15+ minutes with us peering over a cliff looking down at ruins of an ancient theater talking about 'how fascinating the theater is'. We then went to an organic farmhouse for an included "lunch" with a pre-set menu which was not to any of my groups' taste at all, though some others seemed to enjoy it. The alabaster shop in Volterra was absolutely amazing, though we didn't have much time there, either, due to her extended history lesson and fascination with the theater ruins.

Kotor

Montenegro was a delightful surprise. Kotor was a beautiful city with a lot to see. I recommend just walking around the city on your own. There's no need for an excursion here. Get a map of the city at the information desk as you head away from the pier and start exploring. There are beautiful, ancient churches and buildings, lovely beaches if the weather is right, and pretty nice shopping.

Venice

Venice is absolutely wonderful. It is a very beautiful city. We recommend that once you finish seeing St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace, that you venture towards the center of the city for any shopping. If you pay attention, you will notice that the same identical items bought on the main drag by the vaporetto drop off points get cheaper and cheaper the more inland you go. We also recommend that you do NOT buy the "unlimited shuttle pass" from the Cruise Line. We were in Venice for 2 days, and that pass cost $28 per person. It would have been cheaper to take the regular vaporetto (water taxi) from the pier to near St. Mark's right away, and back at the end of the day. Unless you plan on going back and forth to the ship more than just one trip out and one trip back, the shuttle passes are a big waste of money.

Venice

Venice is absolutely wonderful. It is a very beautiful city. We recommend that once you finish seeing St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace, that you venture towards the center of the city for any shopping. If you pay attention, you will notice that the same identical items bought on the main drag by the vaporetto drop off points get cheaper and cheaper the more inland you go. We also recommend that you do NOT buy the "unlimited shuttle pass" from the Cruise Line. We were in Venice for 2 days, and that pass cost $28 per person. It would have been cheaper to take the regular vaporetto (water taxi) from the pier to near St. Mark's right away, and back at the end of the day. Unless you plan on going back and forth to the ship more than just one trip out and one trip back, the shuttle passes are a big waste of money.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik was a very nice little town, with lots of old world charm. Unfortunately, it was ruined by mass commercialization directed toward tourists. Every single shop sells the same identical mass merchandised items with Dubrovnik plastered all over it. There is very little in the way of hand made or artisan goods, or 'things they are known for' such as Murano glass in Venice.

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